Butterfly pea commonly known as Asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine, blue pea, cordofan pea and Darwin pea, is a plant species belonging to the family Fabaceae.
Butterfly pea is a short-lived, herbaceous, perennial climbing, scrambling or trailing herb with a strong woody rootstock. It produces slender new annual stems that grow up to 3 metres long from the woody base each year. The stems do not root at the nodes. The plant is harvested from the wild as a food, medicine and dye. It has also long been cultivated, as a medicinal and dye plant; an ornamental for its showy flowering display; and as a soil improver in plantations
Butterfly pea is a perennial herbaceous plant, with elliptic, obtuse leaves. It grows as a vine or creeper, doing well in moist, neutral soil. The most striking feature about this plant is the color of its flowers, a vivid deep blue; solitary, with light yellow markings. They are about 4 cm (1.6 in) long by 3 cm (1.2 in) wide. Some varieties yield white flowers.
This wonderful twining plant generously bears quite large flowers (about 2" across) which are a beautiful shade of vivid cobalt blue with a white throat. The flowers are presented upside down - the "keel" petal appears on the top rather than the underside. The butterfly pea is a beautiful 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 center 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 comes from the resemblance to intimate parts of the human anatomy. Butterfly pea is native to Africa and SE Asia, widely cultivated in India, South America and Australia.
The flowers are mixed with water in a preparation used to treat eye problems. The powdered, ripe seeds are aperient and purgative. The roots are bitter, powerfully cathartic, diuretic and purgative. The rootbark is diuretic and laxative.
The plant is used in the treatment of snakebites. The seeds contain a fixed oil, a bitter resinous principle and tannins.
The rootbark contains tannins.