Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Butterfly Pea Clitoria Ternatea

My post today is about Butterfly pea flowers.

Earlier in the day today, I was feeling very brave. So I tried meddling with the HTML code of my blog template. Halfway through, it hanged. When I restarted my computer, I found that I was unable to access my blog! Google has listed my blog as a spam blog and quarantine it. Now I don't know when they will return it back to me. Hah, me a spam blogger? No way! How I wish I have the IT intelligence of a spammer. These people are geniuses. Luckily, luckily, dear sweet Joanne of Joanne's Cottage Garden had thought me to use a test blog to try out these 'stunts' , otherwise if My Nice Garden disappears, I don't know what to do next. I don't even know how to backup my blog. I only know how to backup my template. Please be warned. This HTML code thing is scary stuff.

First, I'd like to dedicated this post and the blue plumbago flowers to Ms Lona of A Hocking Hills' Garden, who was the first commenter of my previous post, Wordless Wednesday - Rangoon Creeper. The plumbago flowers are from my garden and it is grown by yours truly.

Next, I have another bunch of plumbagos for Ms Kiki of Awake With Charm & Spirit. Today, I am a blue inspired blogger, participating in her Blue Essence Invitation.

Botanical name: Clitoria ternatea
Family: Fabaceae
Common name: Butterfly Pea, Asian Pigeonwings, Blue Pea
Origin: tropical equatorial Asia
Malay name: bunga telang

When you look at the shape of the flowers, I'm sure you can guess how the latin name for the genus, 'clitoria' came about.
"Ternatea", the name of the species, comes from Ternate, a location in Indonesia.
The solidary flowers are indigo with a patch of white and light yellow towards the centre.

This perennial climber blooms the whole year through. Propagation is by seeds and cuttings. Growing from seeds, it is expected that the plant can bloom in 6 weeks. This plant need a rich, moist soil with full sun to partial shade. It tends to get leggy quickly, so pinching helps to keep it bushy. When growing from seeds, it is advisable to soak the seeds overnight in water before sowing. Seeds will germinated in 1-2 weeks. Cuttings root easily in moist sand or vermiculite.

This plant can be grown as an ornamental, or trained on an arbor or chain link fence. It also look great on a hanging basket. I am not sure if the guys will get excited looking at the flowers but these flowers are a favourite food for butterflies. This plant is not invasive.

This is the model for today's outdoor photo shoot. This plant was grown by the lady who sells cut fruits at the stall under the tree. Can you see the owner's wooden table ? She is just going to set up her stall this morning. This plant has been grown from seed. She call it the blue flower plant. Actually these 2 plants are growing from a hole in the middle of the roadside concrete pavement. To train this climber, the lady had used a string to tie the branches to the small tree. Now it looks like the butterfly pea plant is hugging the tree.

This is how the vine, flower, seed and ripe seed pod looks like at close-up. It seems that the young seed pods are edible.

In Thailand, butterfly pea extract is used in hair shampoos for the prevention of falling hair, and to make the hair thicker and more shiny.

Owing to the flower's similarity to a female body part, this plant was used traditionally to cure sexual ailments, like infertility, gonorrhea, to control menstrual discharge, as well as an aphrodisiac. (Information obtained from Wikipedia)

In Malaysia, the flowers are used as a food colouring. The flowers are pounded to extract the juice to get the blue colour. It is used in peranakan (Straits-born Chinese/ Baba Nyonya) cooking to make pulut tai-tai or blue glutinous rice cakes. A tai-tai is a chinese word for a wealthy man's wife who does not need to work or earn money but has lots of leisure and money to spend. This dessert is a peranakan wedding specialty. The blue stain comes from the flower. The cakes are usually served with kaya (coconut egg jam). Kaya is a jam or sandwich spread made from coconut milk and eggs, flavoured with pandan leaves and sweetened with sugar. We also apply kaya on toast.

Please click here for the pulut tai-tai and here for kaya recipes from

Malay dishes using this flower include kuih tekan (quite similar to pulut tai-tai) and nasi kerabu Kelantan (blue Kelantanese styled rice).

It is also used to make nyonya chang (glutinous rice dumplings). The recipe is here.

In Thailand, it is used to make a sweet syrupy blue drink called nam dok anchan. If you add some lime juice to the blue solution, it will magically turn to purple!

In Burma the flowers are used as food where they are often dipped in batter and fried.

Now, my final blue picture for today. In Malaysia, secondary school girls wear blue uniforms to school. The sky above is quite clear and blue too. Look at the sign board here. Nowadays, school children are so lucky. They even motivate you to go to school. During my time, if we absent ourselves without a valid reason or play truant, we will get a spanking or canning, sometimes both, from the school teacher as well as our parents.

Until then, have a wonderful weekend!

This is my entry for Blooming Friday, 3rd Week of November. My grateful thanks to Katarina at Roses and Stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, click

This is also my entry for Fertilizer Friday. My grateful thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time for hosting Fertilizer Friday. To see what others have posted or to participate, visit here.

This is also my entry for Today's Flowers #67. My grateful thanks to the TF folks: Santilli, Denise, Pupo and Valkyrien for hosting Today's Flowers. To participate or view other floral displays around the world, click here.

P/S: Update to my post.
1. My blogger friend Ms Andrea, a Horticulturist (Postharvest Physiology) from the Philippines has a similar flower that looks like the double flowering clitoria ternatea. Her post "Flowers With Interesting Names" dated November 18th and the link is here. Can you, my dear readers help her to identify /verify the plant? Thanks a gazillion! She also has a pale purple similar looking flower but it actually has a different botanic name, "Centrosema pubescens".

2. Kanak Hagjer of Terra Farmer has a picture of the double-petaled variety of the butterfly pea in her lates post dated November 26th, "The Blues Don't Get Me Down". Please click here to view the flower.

3. My New Straits Times article about this plant "Flowers to Dye For" dated 19 June 2010 is here


  1. Wow..what a Wonderful post!! Yay..I loove those gorgeous pea flowers..they are so adorable and pretty!! Such a nice blue!!I love coming here becuase I always see and learn about something new...beautiful job and thankyou for creating with Blue!! Truly appreciated!
    PS: what do the seeds taste like?

  2. Ouch! Did you ever get a caning?

    Your blue butterfly pea is so lovely and such a spectacular color. I can see why they use it for coloring. Wow!

  3. Interesting bit of info about the blue pea vine as food coloring for those rice cakes. That pea vine is one of my favorite flowers in the garden. I love it's intense blue color. It does get scraggly, and seeds that drop will sprout with no effort on my part.


  4. I had no idea these pretty flowers are used as a food colouring agent. How interesting! We see a lot of these flowers here in India too. They're so eye-catching arent they?

  5. Hello AutumnBelle,

    I can only imagine how scary it was to thought you had lost your blog! I am glad you had a test blog to rely on.

    The Butterfly Pea has such a beautiful, rich blue color. I always like a plant that is beautiful and also has so many uses. Thank you for profiling this plant.

  6. Hi Autumn Belle, this post had everything! Beauty, sex, violence, color, gardening, education, what have I left out? I love those blue rice cakes. What a fabulous color and the story of the tai tai is irresistable. I never tire of hearing about your culture and traditions. You are a font on knowledge! I do hope there is no longer any cannings or spankings though.


  7. Oh, horror, the thought of messing up your blog, what a scary thing to happen. Thank goodness Joanne gave you some good advice.

  8. Autumn Belle, lovely photos as always, and that gentian blue is my favorite.

    Regarding your blog: You can export you blog (back it up) by signing into your site.

    1) Go to:

    2)login to the highlighted Http://
    3) go to "settings", and there you will see "export blog". Click on that and "download blog", then "save" file (it does so in an .xml format for you can then import to another blog site.

    Thank you, for that was a reminder to do that to mine again. Diana

  9. Kiki, thank you, thank you for the nice encouraging words. I am a happy blue inspired blogger today.

    Rosey, I have been caned by my grandparents and my parents for being naughty. That is a normal growing up process for kids below 12 then. The only time I was caned at school was by the headmistress (HM) while I as standing guard as a class monitor in elementary school. She just passed by and thought that I was standing in class for a punishment given by my class teacher. She never apologized to me even though there was a staff meeting about the wrong caning given to me. I never liked this HM and I thanked God when she was transferred to another school far away. We regard caning as part of growing up lessons but not this mistake caning.

    Flowerlady, the blue pea is a natural blue food colouring which is so much better than the artificial ones sold at the stores. You have wonderful plant growing in your garden.

    Sunita, actually many Malaysians, old and young are also not aware that we can use this flower as a food coloring agent. They buy the blue essence which is not organic.

    Noelle, I was lucky I still have my blog. It was a close call. Now I am having nightmares just thinking about it.

    Frances, you have just said what I initially wanted to write inside my post but cannot find the right words. Ha ha, you have left out ‘cooking’ from your list though. My parents stopped caning me when I reached 12 years old, i.e. no longer a child. Joanne was like an angel who saved my life in blogosphere. Now I am having HTML-phobia.

    Di, thank you very very much for your kind assistance. The details are great. I will do this soonest possible. It was so sweet of you, my angel.

  10. Hello Autumn Belle,

    This plant grows wild and I fell in love with the vine when we first moved to my house. It took over so I got rid of it. Now you have given me a new spurt to get another one. I never imagined that it can be used as a food colouring or eaten. Yes the name does remind me of a certain part of the female anatomy and the flower does resemble it :-0 LOL. I am going to quit now LOL

  11. I can't believe you were caned by accident!! How horrible!

    I loved your cool blue post! The blue in the rice thing looked really cool. I thought it was a bar of soap at first! You've mentioned pandan a lot now - it was in that bo bo cha cha recipe you shared with me too. I've GOT to try it. I bet I'd love it.

    I knew the clitoria had something sexual related to it - the name and shape of the flower is just too much!

  12. Looks like you have good advice about backing up... once you do it a few times it is very easy... but there are so many other things about blogging that is such a headache... so I feel for and with you. Lovely Lovely blue blooms and photos. Very interesting to learn about the dyes and medicinal uses of the plants. Enjoy the weekend. Carol

  13. That butterfly pea flower is a perfect blue. It is a very pretty little thing indeed. It amazes me how many uses people find for a plant. Me, I just want it to either look pretty or smell pretty.

    I am heeding your warning. I also lack super human computing skills and could effectivel wipe out the entire western hemisphere with my attempts at HTML. I choose to leave it alone. It's better for everyone that way. heheh

  14. Saya pernah coba tanam Clitoria ternatea itu, tapi tidak begitu berhasil. Mungkin terlalu dingin di sini... Wah, pulut tai-tai itu kelihatan lezat sekali.

    Ngomong-ngomong, tinggalnya di mana di Malaysia?


  15. Helen, I am so happy that you lol after reading my post. I tried to make blue colouring today. I tear some petals and dip them in a glass of water for a few hours and the water turned blue. It was so easy.

    Wendy, the HM just whisk by, struck me and disappeared while she was patrolling our classrooms, holding a cane. It was very unexpected and I was shocked. I too couldn’t believe it and by the time I recovered she was gone. The consolation was that other pupils and my class teacher stood up for me but then to no avail. Well, that is part of growing up.

    Pandan leaves transfer the ‘vanila-like’ aroma to the dessert soups and enhances the taste. Bo Bo Cha Cha is my children’s favourite dessert. You can drink it hot or cold.

    I only realized the flower’s shape is so unique after doing research on it. It didn’t occur to me all this while. This is the wonderful part of blogging. I seem to discover new things and new friends everyday.

    Carol, I have followed the Diana’s advice and successfully did a backup of my blog. It was very easy indeed. Jacqueline, of John & Jacq~s Garden has also hightlighted this fact to me. Now, I realise that I must not procrastinate on doing backups.

    Le San, the food sellers that I speak to, all of them seemed to love the flowers. However, these flowers do not have any smell. You comment about the HTML is so very funny.

    Andre, Apa Khabar? Pulut tai-tai ini sangat sedap kalau dimakan dengan kaya. Saya tinggal di Klang, Malaysia.

    1. Hi Belle,
      May I know where can I buybthe blue pea seeds?

    2. Avelinah, try searching for online seed sellers from Malaysia, such as Tanam Sendiri )( I got my seeds from the kueh seller!

    3. Thanks Belle... i will try to get from the suggested seller :)

  16. Wow, this butterfly pea vine is lovely! Such an intense blue colour. I can well understand the latin name of this plant - there is a certain resemblance...
    Enjoy your weekend!

  17. Oh my gosh, I loved your post today. (And, yes, I could definitely understand the source of the Latin name for your flower!) Thanks so much for lesson about flower food coloring, too! That was so neat.

  18. I do love these latin names - they tell it like it is. Another plant with a fun name is youpon holly, a plant native to my region. Its latin identity is ilex vomitoris, which describes what happens if you ingest it.
    Reading about your HTLM problems scares me stiff. I may not be computer illiterate, but you could say I still have to have the "easy to read" books. HTLM? Just today I was thinking I was going to have to get my son to tell me what that is.

  19. Such beautiful blues! Lots of info... very interesting. I've always loved sweet peas, and these reminded me of them for some reason. I didn't know where blue food coloring came from, but this must be one of the sources. Very nice. =)

  20. This is a great post. Often with long posts, I get bored and leave quickly but you were so imformative and interesting. This is a beautifully flowering vine and I loved seeing it.
    I grow some Plumbago every summer here but of course it doesn't have time to get real big. I do enjoy it so much...

  21. Excellent post, Autumn Belle! Wonderful blues! As for the accident with Google, I had one too with my other blog. I was editing my old posts (removing pictures, changing their size, correcting mistakes, etc.)Every time I needed to click "Publish post"after editing. I did several posts one after another. Now, I understand that it looked like I was spamming, publishing many posts in a short time. In a couple of days, they corrected the situation, after checking my blog. I learned a lesson: don't click Publish button many times in one day.

  22. Autumn Belle, I'd read about the food colouring when I did a post last year but I'd never seen the pictures. It's beautiful! And I didn't know the 'ternatea' part. Thanks for all the excellent information you've provided on the Butterfly pea flower. And your plumbagos are stunning!!

    Have a lovely weekend!

  23. i loved the colour on the blue rice cakes!
    did you know that the butterfly pea comes in white as well?

  24. such lovely bunga telang! I used to have it growing but somehow, something happened and it has disappeared:( Love the blue for the kueh and it's yummy!

  25. Thanks for teaching me about the intensely blue butterfly pea.

  26. what a wonderful post...I love the color of the butterfly pea!!! great information friend!

  27. G'Day, I came for a visit via Friday Fertilizer. I enjoyed reading about the pea flower and yes I can see how it got it's name.Very useful and attractive plant. I remember that coconut/egg jam from living in Singapore when I was a kid. I used to buy tins of it from the local Kampong shop, Yummy.

  28. Hi Autumnbelle, I remembered I left a comment here. But nevermind, just wanted to say that the shades of blues here are wonderful. Also I have never come across that signage in school before.. 'congratulations... ' Now I know there is such a signage. The butterfly pea flower you have taken is very blue! I am sure it will make a very good colouring. I hope you are having a restful and wonderful weekend now :-D

  29. hahaha again lovely post. We seldom see that blue flower here but i am familiar with the name 'Clitoria ternatea'. This reminds me of an almost similar flower, i will post that one next time in my blog. I wish i can just put it in the comment portion of your post as a rejoinder and comparison, just like in the flickr site, but i don't know how to do that here in blogger. So i promise to post it next time, hopefully this week, Autumn Belle, promise me that you will look at that flower. It looks like Clitoria too!

  30. Very enjoyable series of photos, thanks so much. All are beautiful.

  31. Erin, Darla, Katarina, TB Hearts, WackyMummy, Linda May, Tootsie, Donna, Denise, thanks for visiting and for the nice words.

    Deborah, HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language and it is used in web pages. We need to be extra careful when dealing with HTML codes. Thanks for the info on youpon holly. It look like red cherries.

    Tatyana, my test blog is still in quarantine. At first they ask me to type in some codes on the screen. It was so blurr, so I typed wrongly. They gave me only once chance. I think I was changing and unchanging the HTML codes many times.

    Kanak, yours is the double petal flower. Very pretty.

    Arati, ah yes, I saw the image but I haven’t see a real plant with white flowers yet.

    Keats, Stephanie, I just have to tear the petals and the colour seeps into the water in an hour or so. I think the blue colour make the kuih look more delicious.

    Andrea, we can link back to each other. I am waiting anxiously for this similar flower of yours.

  32. Autumn Belle, your post is just wonderful! The Blue Pea is lovely, and such an interesting plant. I enjoyed learning about it!

  33. When I came to know that this flower is edible, I thinking of a bowl of yellow, white & red hibiscus with these blue pea flower. Some few petals of (SENDUDUK / Straits Rhododendron) & torch ginger flower as an exotic salad dressing.... Excellent!

    But I wonder, whether anyone would consider putting them in their salad bowls? Maybe I would try them and put a post in a blog.

  34. Very lovely and insightful post, Autumn Belle! You've made it so interesting and captivating, even some of the comments therein had me lol...haha!
    We've grown this beauty about 4 years ago on our chain-link fence but not that successful. I remembered hubby and I were so mesmerized by the vibrant blue flowers that we actually stopped by the front gate of the house that displayed it and requested for some of its peas. Desperate gardeners, huh?
    Good to hear that you're saving your lovely blog...right move! Hope one unfortunate HTML episode will not deter you from further learning.
    Have a lovely day, my friend!

  35. Jacqueline, James and Jan,

    What a coincidence that I have a tripple J ! How very wonderful, my dear friends. Thank you so much for your sweet words. Cheers!

  36. And you have 2 Andrea! There is no such thing as coincidence, everything we encounter is a teacher and a student. And we are glad to find everybody so we grow in spirit and knowledge, hopefully wisdom too.

    Thanks also for Kanak, we already communicated. I have visited your site several times since yesterday but no post yet, come on, hurry, we are waiting for your next post. I will be out the whole week next week so i posted many yesterday. It's good i did not experience what Tatyana did by posting several per day. See you week after next.

  37. Happy Chinese New Year!

    Glad I found your blog and enjoy reading it.

    I have the hardest time in sprouting butterfly pea seeds, maybe the seeds are old and not viable, I finally found a way to do it, that's to nick the seed coat, soak it in warm water and place on heat mat, some germinated, but not all of them. My plants did not produced any seed pod last year, perhaps the growing season is not long enough, I'm trying again this year hopefully I'll get some seed pods for next year.
    I notice some of flowers are single petal and some are double petals, are they both edible? Are the whites and purple color flowers edible also?

  38. Hi, Mac. Welcome to My Nice Garden. Happy Chinese New Year to you too. Glad to know that you have found a way to germinate your BP seeds. That was very smart of you. We grow the blue flowers (single and double flowers) for the blue colouring and both flowers can be eaten as salads. I have no experience with the white version though.

  39. Could you tell me where did u get this butterfly pea flower? do you get it in KL area?

  40. Anonymous, I got the seeds from a morning market food seller. I have some home-saved seeds which I will be happy to give to you. Please send me an email and I'll reply accordingly.

  41. Hi.. I have the butterfly pea plants in containers. But none of them are flowering. They are growing well though. Could you tell me what I can do to solve this?

    1. Perhaps they are still young plants now and will flower when mature. Wait a little longer ^-^

  42. Hi Autumn Belle do u grow the blue pea in your garden too? I have a "feeling" to go buy a couple of them from my nursery here in Ipoh because today is Dumpling Festival and I was looking at recipes for the nyonya chung (yummy) and the flowers are pretty and I am trying to add some colour to my garden. At first I wanted mostly green to my garden but lately I have been on a colour spree! DOn't know why...ha ha ha

    Did u read that I found a noni tree in my garden (on my blog) but the fruits won't mature. They fall after a little while, that's why I have never seen a mature fruit on the tree since I moved here, and didn't believe my maid that it was noni. Well yesterday I watered the noni tree for the FIRST time and scattered some fertilizer around its base also for the FIRST time. Hopefully with this new love, the tree will reward me!

    1. I have some saved blue pea seeds. I can send you some if you want it, just email me your address. I am now growing the white double flower variety, no flowers yet.

      Yes, I read about your noni tree. Well, I have learnt a lot from Indon maids who are good in gardening. Good luck with the tree!

    2. Hi Belle,

      Do you have any blue bunga telang? I am interested to buy.
      Please email me at:

    3. Ok, i will be sending you an email soon.

  43. Hello Belle,
    I am drinking butterfly pea tea and reading your enchanting, thanks for the info shared, I saw it forfirst time in Thailand and brought some dried flowers back to Europe for tea usage;
    happy weekend!

    1. Jana, thanks for the info. Glad you like it.

  44. Paul Devaraj MichaelWednesday, October 09, 2013

    Dear Authum Belle, thank you for sharing especially about the Bunga Telang (Clitoria ternatea). I want to share that since this plant is a legume, it is beneficial to garden soil because its roots have nitrogen fixing bacteria that improves soil quality. It helps in my garden.

    I was wondering if you have any recipes for cooking the young pods of this plant. In Malaysia we often use the flowers but not the pod. It seems a waste since this plant produces much pods…
    Thank you and pls keep posting. It’s my first time reading your blog and I enjoy it…

    1. Paul, thank you very much for the extra info and kind words! I'm sorry I don't have the recipe because I myself having tried eating the young pods yet. Hopefully, in future I can find a link with this recipe and share it here :-)

  45. Hi Belle,
    Do you still have extra blue pea seeds?Can I buy some from you?I have been searching for blue pea flowers and its seeds for a long time but couldn't get it..
    Hope to hear from you soon ya~ Thanks! :)

    1. Hi, I'm so sorry I don't have the seeds anymore. You can try asking this Malaysian website:

  46. Hi Belle! I am Ou. I planted clitoria ternatea last year and out of sudden, it dried up and died two years ago. Can I know whether you had faced such incident before? You know why is that happening? I am just curious as I've watered the plant quite often. It shouldn't be dried up and died.

    1. Hi Ou, this is quite normal, the plant may have died due to "old age", especially when it has already produced lots of matured seed pods.

  47. hello Autumn Belle
    thanks for such a nice post & blog.
    i live in ipoh and have search ages for the seed/plant. the nursery do not sell.
    do you still have the blue flower tree? maybe i could get some seedsfrom you

    1. Megan, I'm sorry that I don't have stock of the seeds as I have given them away. You can't find them in nurseries. Try looking around your neighbourhood. Many people do grow them in their home gardens in Ipoh.

    2. thanks for replying.
      will have to stalk the neighbourhood then...

    3. Megan, hope it gives you a chance to establish new friendships when you ask a neighbour for seeds from their garden plants. Good Luck!

  48. I had no idea these pretty flowers are used as a food colouring agent. How interesting! We see a lot of these flowers here in India too. They're so eye-catching arent they?

    arang sekam

  49. hi, may i know how to make the flower blossom? i have planted for couples months, when can i hope for the flowers??

    1. Wait a little longer for it to mature. I'm sure it will flower soon. Otherwise try putting some flower inducing fertilizer.


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