Clitoria ternatea L. (CT) (Family: Fabaceae) commonly known as ‘Butterfly pea’, a traditional Ayurvedic medicine, has been used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent. A wide range of secondary metabolites including triterpenoids, flavonol glycosides, anthocyanins and steroids has been isolated from Clitoria ternatea Linn. Its extracts possess a wide range of pharmacological activities including antimicrobial, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diuretic, local anesthetic, antidiabetic, insecticidal, blood platelet aggregation-inhibiting and for use as a vascular smooth muscle relaxing properties. This plant has a long use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for several diseases and the scientific studies has reconfirmed those with modern relevance. This review is an effort to explore the chemical constituents, pharmacological and toxicity studies of CT, which have long been in clinical use in Ayurvedic system of medicine along with a critical appraisal of its future ethnopharmacological potential in view of many recent findings of importance on this well known plant species.




Used for short and medium-term pastures for grazing or cut-and-carry and as a protein bank. Makes good quality hay but difficult to handle due to its viny nature.


Used as green manure, cover crop or ley pasture for soil conservation and fertility improvement in grain cropping systems (maize, sorghum, wheat) and as a revegetation species on coal mine waste in subhumid central Queensland, Australia.  Also used as a cover crop under coconut in southern India and in rubber in Malaysia.


Widely planted as an ornamental on fencerows or trellises. Various parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes in many cultures, treating a wide range of conditions. Young pods and leaves are eaten as a vegetable, and flowers and leaves are used to colour food and drink.


Occurs in grassland, open woodland, bush, riverine vegetation, and disturbed places throughout its natural range.

Soil requirements

Adapted to a wide range of soil types (from sands to heavy clays) of at least moderate fertility but is extremely well adapted to heavy clay alkaline soils, and suited to those clay soils which are too shallow for leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala).  Can be grown in soils with pH from 5.5 to 8.9 but is best adapted in the pH range of 6.5‒8.0.  Some tolerance of salinity, but lower than that of siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum).


Requires summer rainfall of 500 mm over 3 months but grows best between 700 and 1,500 mm AAR.  Drought tolerant and will survive in years which have only 400 mm rainfall and a dry season of 5‒6 months or longer even if heavily grazed.  Some tolerance of short term flooding but not prolonged inundation or waterlogging .

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