Butterfly pea

Family • Leguminosae / Fabaceae - Pukinggan - Centrosema molle Mart. ex Benth. - SOFT BUTTERFLY PEA - Ju ban dou


Scientific names

Centrosema pubescens Benth.
Centrosema molle Mart. ex Benth.
Bradburya pubescens (Benth.) Kuntze.

Common names

Pukinggan (Tag.) Spurred butterfly pea (Engl.)
Butterfly pea (Eng.) Flor de conchitas (Span.)
Centro (Engl.) Frijol cuchillo (Span.)
Soft butterfly pea (Engl.) Ju ban dou (Chin.)

Botanical factoid
If you stare long enough and let your mind stray, you might appreciate how the common name Pukinganderived from the flower’s similarity to the female external genitalia, particularly the clitoris. Another species, Clitorea ternatea, share the same common name, pukingan, from puki, which is tagalog for vagina.

butterfly pea

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Immunologically active polysaccharides from Centrosema pubescens / B P da Silva, J B Tostes, J P Parente / Fitoterapia. 2000 Sep;71(5):516-21.

(2) CENTROSEMA AND CLITORIA (LEGUMINOSAE: PAPILIONIDAE: PHASEOLEAE: CLITORIINAE) IN THE MEXICAN YUCATÁN PENINSULA, INCLUDING THREE LECTOTYPIFICATIONS / Rodrigo Duno de Stefano, Paul R Frantz et al / Vulpia, Vol. 7, 2008, pp. 1–15.

(3) ANTIMICROBIAL AND WOUND HEALING ACTIVITIES OF CENTROSEMA PUBESCENS ( LEGUMINOSAE) / Memfin Ekpo, Herbert Mbagwu, Clement Jackson & Mary Eno / JPCS Vol(1) ● April-June 2011

(4) G1 arrest and caspase-mediated apoptosis in HL-60 cells by dichloromethane extract of Centrosema pubescens. / Ramadevi Mani S, Lakshmi BS. / Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(6):1143-59.

Taxonomic note
The tropical forage species, known since the last century as Centrosema pubescens, was renamedCentrosema molle Mart. ex Benth.

Botany
Butterfly pea is a twining herbacious vine with trifoliate leaves. Leaflets are dark green, elliptic or ovate-elliptic, up to 9 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide, pubescent on both surfaces and with an obtuse tip. Flowers are showy, bright or pale lilac, with dark violet stripes or blotches. Petal is broadly orbicular and pale lilac with dark blotches. Pods are linear with prominent margins, up to 9 centimeters long and containing up to 20 seeds.

butterfly pea2

Distribution
– Widespread and naturalized in the Philippines.
– A common weed in cultivated fields.
– Occasionally planted as an ornamental.

Constituents
Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, tannins, terpenes.

Parts used
Seeds

Uses 
Folkloric
No recorded folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
In Laos, seed is crushed on applied to skin for scorpion and snake bites.

butterfly pea3

Study Findings
• Immunologically Active Polysaccharides / RES-Potentiating: Study isolated two polysaccharides from the powdered seeds of Centrosema pubescens. The polysaccharides showed reticuloendothelial system-potentiating activity.
• Pubescidin: Study isolated a new isoflavone glycoside, irisolidone 7-O-B-D-apiofuranosyl-(1-2)B-D-glucopyranoside from the seeds of CP along with sitosterol, stigmasterol and a sitosterol-glucopyranoside.
• Antimicrobial / Wound Healing: An ethanolic extract of this plant showed significant antibacterial and antimicrobial effect against most pathogenic organisms tested. A crude ointment of the plant showed a certain degree of wound healing evident from wound contraction and increased tensile strength.
• Anti-Proliferative / Apoptosis: Study assessed the anti-proliferative activity of C. pubescens. A dichlormethane extract inhibited the proliferation of HL-60 (promyelocytic acute leukemia) cells. Results showed effective arrest of the cell cycle and apoptosis. The extract exhibited negligible toxicity even at the highest dose tested.

Availability
Wild-crafted.