WHAT IS BUTTERFLY PEA FLOWER?

 

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

This special flower is scientifically known as the as clitoria ternatea. It is said that it was given its genus name ‘clitoria’ due to its resemblance to the female genitalia.

Its other common names are asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine and cordofan pea, as well as the non-english names; Aprajita in Hindi, อัญชัน (An Chan) in Thai and Bunga Telang in Malay.

ORIGINS

The butterfly pea flower is often found in tropical countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, although it has been found all along the equatorial belt.

USES

Over the years, different cultures have found varying uses for this versatile plant, many of which are being researched today to be applied in the modern world.

 

1. Culinary

Before blue coloured smoothie bowls and blue matcha lattes, the butterfly pea flower was often used in South East Asia where locals would steep the flowers to produce the blue colour extract. It is then mixed in with water to give traditional rice dishes, a blue twist, much like the blue smoothie bowls we see today.

Nasi Lemak and Nasi Kerabu are popular traditional dishes to make with the butterfly pea flower, and recently, desserts like the sticky rice and mango are also sporting a new blue hue.

2. Medicinal

Clitoria ternatea has a rich history within Ayurvedic medicine which has been practiced in India for centuries. The extracts of the butterfly pea flower was often used as an ingredient in ‘Medhya Rasayana’, a rejuvenating nootropic herbal formulation to improve cognitive function, boost memory and to treat anxiety and depression.

3. Textiles

Traditionally, the butterfly pea flower petals were steeped in hot water to create a natural blue dye, which was then used to add colour to fabrics. Researchers are now finding ways to extract blue pigments at a commercial level.

4. Agriculture

Butterfly pea flower has had a long history with agriculture, it was grown as forest legume at first but farmers then noticed that it also improved the soil fertility which improved crop yields such as maize and wheat.

 

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References

‘Clitoria ternatea,’ Examine.com, published on 30 September 2013, last updated on 14 June 2018,https://examine.com/supplements/clitoria-ternatea/

‘Ternate Island Butterfly Pea,’ Slow Food Foundation, no published date, https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/en/ark-of-taste-slow-food/ternate-butterfly-pea/

CABI, 2018. ‘Clitoria Ternatea - butterfly pea flower,’ by Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA, In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. www.cabi.org/isc.

ILDIS, 2016. International Legume Database and Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Gomez SM, Kalamani A, 2003. Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea): a nutritive multipurpose forage legume for the tropics: an overview. 2, 374-379.

‘2019 Beverage Trends: Top Predictions for the coming year’, by Beth Newhart on BeverageDaily.com, published on 5 Dec 2018 https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2018/12/05/Top-five-predictions-for-2019-beverage-trends

‘Butterfly pea flower sticky rice and mango’ by Chef Mirelle, on theschizochef.com on March 17, 2016 https://www.theschizochef.com/2016/03/blue-pea-flower-sticky-rice-mango/

‘What is butterfly pea tea + how to make it at home’ by Lyndsay Burginger, published on wideopeneats.com on February 26, 2018 https://www.wideopeneats.com/butterfly-pea-tea/

‘What is Ayurveda?’ WebMD Medical Reference, Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on November 1, 2016 https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/ayurvedic-treatments#2

Nootropic herbs (Medhya Rasayana) in Ayurveda: An update,’ published by Reena Kulkarni, K. J. Girish, and Abhimanyu Kumar on US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, on August 23, 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459457/

‘Clitoria ternatea Linn: A Herb with Potential Pharmacological Activities: Future Prospects as Therapeutic Herbal Medicine,’ by Gollen B, Mehla J, Gupta P (2018), J Pharma Reports 3: 141. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/clitoria-ternatea-linn-a-herb-with-potential-pharmacological-activities-future-prospects-as-therapeutic-herbal-medicine-99136.html

‘11 Wellness Trends to watch in 2019,’ by unknown author, published on mindbodygreen.com, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/wellness-trends-2019

‘Natural dyes,’ by unknown author, on earthernwarrior.com, http://www.earthenwarrior.com/natural-dyes-and-herbs/

‘Improved Extraction of Natural Blue dye from Butterfly Pea using Microwave Assisted Methodology to Reduce the Effect of Synthetic Blue Dye’ by Keka Sinha, Papita Das Saha, V. Ramya and Siddhartha Datta, 2012. International Journal of Chemical Technology, 4: 57-65. https://scialert.net/fulltextmobile/?doi=ijct.2012.57.65

FAO, 2016. Grassland species profiles. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/Gbase/Default.htm

INTRODUCTION TO THE BUTTERFLY PEA FLOWER

 

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

This special flower is scientifically known as the as  clitoria ternatea. It is said that it was given its genus name ‘clitoria’ due to its resemblance to the female genitalia.

Its other common names are asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine and cordofan pea, then there are the non-english names; Aprajita in Hindi, อัญชัน (An Chan) in Thai and Bunga Telang in Malay to name a few more!

 

ORIGINS

The butterfly pea flower is often found in South East Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, however, it was introduced to these countries many years ago and actually originated from Africa and India.

The spread of the butterfly pea flower throughout the tropical parts of the world is most likely because of the fact that farmed animals had a taste for it! Its spread is aligns with the expansion of agricultural practices across the world and because it is a fast growing plant, it moved quickly beyond areas reserved for agriculture, making itself at home in sunny, humid, tropical climates.

 

USES

Over the years, different cultures have found varying uses for this versatile plant, many of which are being researched today to be used in the modern world.

1. Culinary

Recently, blue coloured smoothie bowls and blue matcha lattes have been appearing all over the internet due to it being, well, ‘instagrammable’. The unusual yet intriguing splash of colour it added to the regular, run-of-the-mill, mostly brown, or beige food, was a huge hit but before the internet craze, the butterfly pea flower had more humble uses in the culinary world.

In South East Asia, locals steeped the flowers to produce the blue colour extract, which is then used to give traditional rice dishes, a blue twist, much like the blue smoothie bowls we see today. Nasi Lemak and Nasi Kerabu are popular traditional dishes to make with the butterfly pea flower, and recently, desserts like the sticky rice and mango are also sporting a blue hue!

Then of course, it was steeped with other fragrant plants such as lemongrass and ginger, which Thai people call Nam Dok Anchan. This is still a popular drink today and is often served as welcome drink at Thai hotels and resorts. In fact, Nam Dok Anchan was the inspiration behind our first creation; Snap out of the Blues!)

 

2. Medicinal

Clitoria ternatea has a rich history within Ayurvedic medicine which has been practiced in India for centuries. The extracts of the butterfly pea flower was often used as an ingredient in ‘Medhya Rasayana’, a rejuvenating nootropic herbal formulation to improve cognitive function, boost memory and to treat anxiety and depression. With the renaissance of Ayurveda and greater interest in plant-based ingredients, we expect you’ll be hearing more about the benefits of butterfly pea flower in this area!

 

3. Textiles

Traditionally, the butterfly pea flower petals were steeped in hot water to create a natural blue dye, which was then used to add colour to fabrics. Now, with the increased awareness of sustainable practices and natural alternatives, researchers have been able to find ways to extract blue pigments at a commercial level. This breakthrough could lead to the butterfly pea flower being more commonly used in the textile industry in the future.  

 

4. Agriculture

The spread of the butterfly pea flower from its native Africa has largely been through agriculture. Farmed animals such as cows, sheeps etc couldn’t get enough of the butterfly pea flower and so it was grown asforage legume.

Farmers then realised that it also improved the soil fertility which improved crop yields such as maize and wheat. In Australia, it is being used as a means to revegetate areas affected by coal mines due to its ability to grow quickly and is drought tolerant. TRIPLE WIN!

 

As you can see, there are so many wonderful uses of the butterfly pea flower. We expect to be hearing more and more about it, so sign up with us to keep yourself updated!

References

‘Clitoria ternatea,’ Examine.com, published on 30 September 2013, last updated on 14 June 2018,https://examine.com/supplements/clitoria-ternatea/

‘Ternate Island Butterfly Pea,’ Slow Food Foundation, no published date, https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/en/ark-of-taste-slow-food/ternate-butterfly-pea/

CABI, 2018. ‘Clitoria Ternatea - butterfly pea flower,’ by Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA, In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. www.cabi.org/isc.

ILDIS, 2016. International Legume Database and Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Gomez SM, Kalamani A, 2003. Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea): a nutritive multipurpose forage legume for the tropics: an overview. 2, 374-379.

‘2019 Beverage Trends: Top Predictions for the coming year’, by Beth Newhart on BeverageDaily.com, published on 5 Dec 2018 https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2018/12/05/Top-five-predictions-for-2019-beverage-trends

‘Butterfly pea flower sticky rice and mango’ by Chef Mirelle, on theschizochef.com on March 17, 2016 https://www.theschizochef.com/2016/03/blue-pea-flower-sticky-rice-mango/

‘What is butterfly pea tea + how to make it at home’ by Lyndsay Burginger, published on wideopeneats.com on February 26, 2018 https://www.wideopeneats.com/butterfly-pea-tea/

‘What is Ayurveda?’ WebMD Medical Reference, Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on November 1, 2016 https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/ayurvedic-treatments#2

Nootropic herbs (Medhya Rasayana) in Ayurveda: An update,’ published by Reena Kulkarni, K. J. Girish, and Abhimanyu Kumar on US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, on August 23, 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459457/

‘Clitoria ternatea Linn: A Herb with Potential Pharmacological Activities: Future Prospects as Therapeutic Herbal Medicine,’ by Gollen B, Mehla J, Gupta P (2018), J Pharma Reports 3: 141. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/clitoria-ternatea-linn-a-herb-with-potential-pharmacological-activities-future-prospects-as-therapeutic-herbal-medicine-99136.html

‘11 Wellness Trends to watch in 2019,’ by unknown author, published on mindbodygreen.com, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/wellness-trends-2019

‘Natural dyes,’ by unknown author, on earthernwarrior.com, http://www.earthenwarrior.com/natural-dyes-and-herbs/

‘Improved Extraction of Natural Blue dye from Butterfly Pea using Microwave Assisted Methodology to Reduce the Effect of Synthetic Blue Dye’ by Keka Sinha, Papita Das Saha, V. Ramya and Siddhartha Datta, 2012. International Journal of Chemical Technology, 4: 57-65. https://scialert.net/fulltextmobile/?doi=ijct.2012.57.65

FAO, 2016. Grassland species profiles. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/Gbase/Default.htm

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