Butterfly Pea, অপরাজিতা Aparajita
Clitoria ternatea Family: Fabaceae (pea family)
This wonderful twining perennial herbaceous plant, with elliptic, obtuse leaves. It grows as a vine or creeper plant and grows better in moist natural soil. Generously bears quite large flowers (about 4cm long by 3cm wide) which are a beautiful shade of vivid deep blue with a white throat. The flowers are presented upside down – the “keel” petal appears on the top rather than the underside. There are some varieties that yield white flowers.
A native of tropical equatorial Asia but found(introduced) in Africa, Australia and America, A vine that can climb to 9 feet in a hot summer. The flowers are produced in late summer, deep blue with a yellow to white pattern in the enter of the lower petal.
A member of the pea family, elongated peas are produced and seeds can be collected for sowing the following year. The botanical name of the flower comes from the resemblance to human female genital parts of the human anatomy, hence the Latin name of the genus “Clitoria“, from “clitoris“. (Synonyms: Clitoris principissae.).
The fruits are 5 – 7 cm long, flat pods with 6 to 10 seeds in each pod. They are edible when tender.
It is grown as an ornamental plant and as a revegetation species (e.g., in coal mines in Australia), requiring little care when cultivated. As a legume, its roots form a symbiotic association with soil bacteria known as rhizobia, which transform atmospheric N2 into a plant useable form, therefore, this plant is also used to improve soil quality through the decomposition of N-rich tissue.
Culture: Aparajita/Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) like a rich, moist soil (2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite).It needs intermediate temperatures. Butterfly pea needs full sun to partial shade, it likes to be shaded from the hot afternoon sun. The plants tend to get leggy very quickly, so pinching helps to keep it bushy.
Propagation: Clitoria ternatea is propagated from seed and by cuttings. To start seeds, soak in water 3-4 hours before sowing. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days. Cuttings root readily in moist sand or vermiculite.
Medicinal Uses : In Bangladesh Aparajita used in treatment for Menopause and Vertigo especially among Hill tracts people
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Butterfly pea has been used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent
In Southeast Asia the flowers are used to colour food. In Malay cooking, an aqueous extract is used to colour glutinous rice for kuih ketan (also known as pulut tai tai in Peranakan/Nyonya cooking) and in nyonya chang. It is also used to colour white rice for Nasi Kerabu which is one of the best Kelantan cuisine. In Thailand, a syrupy blue drink is made called nam dok anchan , it is sometimes consumed with a drop of lime juice to increase acidity and turn the juice into pink-purple. In Burmese and Thai cuisine the flowers are also dipped in batter and fried.
In animal tests the methanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea roots demonstrated nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. The active constituents include tannins, resins, starch, taraxerol and taraxerone.
Recently, several biologically active peptides called cliotides have been isolated from the heat-stable fraction of Clitoria ternatea extract. Cliotides belong to the cyclotides family and activities studies show that cliotides display potent antimicrobial activity against E. coli, K. pneumonia, P. aeruginosa and cytotoxicity against Hela cells. These peptides have potential to be lead compound for the development of novel antimicrobial and anti-cancer agents traditional medicine: Owing to its similarity to a human body part, this plant has been ascribed properties affecting the same (a phenomenon also found in connection with the mandrake, among other plants). It was used traditionally in an attempt to treat sexual ailments, like infertility and gonorrhea, to control menstrual discharge, and also as an aphrodisiac. This practice aligns with an ancient belief recorded in the Doctrine of Signatures.
Reference for further Reading :
1. Traditional Uses of Ethnomedicinal Plants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts – Bangladesh National Harbarium
2. Prokiti Somogra – Prof. Dizen Sharma
3. Tropical Garden Plants –Horticulture and Allied Publication, Kolkata
4. Common Indian Wild Flower – BNHS
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