For making colorful food stuffs without adding synthetic colors,this wonderful flower had been a great alternative since past. Apart from that, nutritious benefits of butterfly blue pea flower are also very high making it different from other type of flowers.
Clitoria ternatea is the scientific name for this wonderful plant. This is a creeping plant that grows very well in many parts of the island Sri lanka. Much common type of butterfly pea flower is blue color flower that occurs either in multi petals or single petal type. Multi petals type flower has an attractive dark blue color where single petal type is little lower in blue color. So the single petal type is not that much dark blue and instead it has a different blue note. Other than these two, there are light purple color and white butterfly pea color flowers as well.
The most beautiful and attractive clitoria type is dark blue multi petals type which villagers have been planting in their gardens for beauty and for religious purposes since many years back. So it is a very common thing in village life to see a butterfly pea vine .
Dark blue color flowers are very rare among flowers even though other colors are common which has made villagers to grow one plant necessarily in their gardens to worship god “Vishnu” whose body color is also blue.
So this blue color butterfly pea flower has a tight bond with rural village Sri lankan life since many years.
The nature of the plant
This is a creeping plant which shows good survival skill in harsh environmental conditions as well. It belongs to the family Fabaceae which is generally termed as pea family. The specialty of this family is that it is capable in Nitrogen fixation which means storing Nitrogen in a usable form for the plants.
The leaves of the plant occur in pairs of leaflets of two to four with a terminal leaflet. These are oblong in shape. The upper surface of the leaves are not with short and soft hairs but the lower side of the leaves possess soft and short hairs.
The pods look like more flattened in shape and are linear. The tip of the pod, it is oblong.In a pod there are seeds of twelve to fourteen that are small and black in color.
The flowers occur in axial regions and are more solitary or maximum of two in a place.They are large and showy blue.
The ideal environmental conditions for the plant to grow are the well drained sandy and little acidic soil. But it is not an exclusive condition for its survival because it shows existence in wide range of soil conditions. Anyway without soggy soil , well drained soil is preferred. For the blooming, it requires proper sunlight. Shade does not encourage blooming. Warm temperature conditions like 27 Celsius above make good condition for the plant to grow.
This plant can be grown either by germinating the seeds or by planting the stem cuttings.
What are the applications of butter fly pea plant
The most attractive plant segment, the vivid blue color flowers are with number of uses.
The novel hit of the flowers are the application to beverages. If you put butter fly pea flowers to warm water, you will see mesmerizing blue color coming out. After a few minutes , entire cup will be appearing in blue!
You can use either fresh blue butterfly pea flowers or dried ones or else dried and powdered form. Commercially these every form is available in supermarkets.
I tried making blue butterfly pea flower- tea and thought it would be worth to share with you.
I plucked some blue butterfly pea flowers from the vine in the garden and the got them dried . You can sun dry them if adequate sunlight is in your place. There you can stop drying at the point it cracks
Then ground them to make powder and sieved them. You do not need to throw away the retained particles on the mesh and simply you can use them too. The powder is what i looked for.Any way you can use both.
Making a colorful blue butterfly pea flower tea..
Then i emptied a tea bag and put a little quantity (even less than 0.2 ) and observed this mesmerizing blue color running all over the hot water. It is more like a painting. You see this .Is not it?
I put nearly 0.15 g of powder to the tea bag and the resulted cup was this kind of blue color one.It means you require a very small quantity to make a stunning blue color tea cup!
This blue color is applied in to numerous food applications. It basically includes colorful beverages. Apart from that, it is also good in making colorful dough to make bread and string hoppers even.Imagine light blue color slice of bread. Generally it can make the foods more pleasing and give it a nice appearance.
The rice and noodles are in blue!.
The color of the blue butterfly pea beverage can turn purple !
The specific thing about this blue color given by butterfly pea flower is that it is very stable. Other natural colors are very susceptible to change with the time.You can keep the foods in the particular color for a considerable time.
Another interesting thing is the change of blue color when you make the medium acidic .
When we add lime or lemon juice to a food it becomes acidic.If you add some juice of these to the butterfly pea beverage, there it will start to change from blue to purple !
Yes. The ultimate result will be the purple color beverage that is completely different from the blue color solution you made initially.
This change that is unique for the butterfly pea flower extracts has been helpful to make mesmerizing food applications that are beautiful and nutritious as well.
Other than the beautiful color that blue butterfly pea flower adds to the foods let us look little deeper about the benefits it gives.
Benefits of blue butterfly pea
1) Antioxidant activity of blue butterfly pea
The antioxidant properties of Clitoria ternatea is widely researched and many research materials are available.
I found a wonderful research in which it shows the ability of flower extract of this plant to reduce free radical induced hemolysis and oxidative damage in canine erythrocytes .[^1]
The anti oxidants are capable of reacting with free radicals and then neutralizing them. It is able to minimize the effect of free radicals then if not these can trigger the cancerous conditions and some chronic diseases in the body.
From the phyto chemical analysis of Clitoria ternatea plant, it has been identified the flavanoids, phenolic compounds and anthocyanins.
Moreover, as per this research CTE (Clitoria ternatea extract) (400 μg/ml) reduced membrane lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl group formation and prevented the reduction of glutathione concentration in AAPH induced oxidation of canine erythrocytes .
2) It shows anti microbial properties
The seeds of this plant has shown anti microbial properties. This ability is due to the presence of a particular protein in it. The C. ternatea 20 kDa protein finotin demonstrated inhibitory activities over a wide range of plant fungal pathogens . Finotin has shown effective suppressing ability on some plant pathogens as per this research.
Another research shows the isolation of 14.3 kDa protein from C. ternatea seeds exhibited activities against the human fungal pathogens, Cryptococcus spp. and Candida spp. and against a number of mold fungi .
Further more, as per a recent research, ultrasound assisted clitoria petals & leaves extracts have anti microbial activity on Staphylococcus aureus .
3) Butterfly pea shows Anthelmintic properties
Anthelmintic property means simply ability to fight against parasitic worms.Several studies have shown the CTE exihibit this property.
In one particular research parasitic root -knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita control is because of the clitoria root extract. There the root extract has been showing greater lethality than leaf extracts against the parasitic worm as per the research.
Using Pheretima posthuma as a test worm, one study showed that the ethanolic C. ternatea extract caused significantly higher mortality rate and incidence of worm paralysis than piperazine citrate, a commonly used drug for controlling parasitic worms .
4) Anti diabetic activity of Clitoria ternatea
The researches done using the butterfly pea flower leaves extracts have shown that it possesses anti diabetic properties.
In this particular research, scientists had used vista rats for the experiment. Ethanolic leaf extracts of this plant (400mg) when given for the wistar rats per kg of body weight per 28 days, it had shown the lower levels of blood glucose, insulin, glycosylated hemoglobin, urea and creatinine than the diabetic control .
Furthermore, the levels of liver enzymes like serum glutamate oxalate transaminase, serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase, lactate dehydrogenase, and alkaline phosphatase in treated rats were lower than the diabetic control rats and were comparable to the normal control rats as per another research
A small scale clinical trial involving 15 healthy males revealed below. When either 1 or 2 g of C. ternatea extract was ingested together with 50 g sucrose the resulting plasma glucose and insulin levels were suppressed
5) Anti pyretic and anti inflammatory properties
Anti pyretic means the ability to reduce fever condition in the body. This particular attribute is from the roots and the leaves of the plant.
In this research Blue butterfly pea flower roots methanol extract when given by oral route to rats, it has shown to lower both the rat paw oedema caused by carrageenin and vascular permeability induced by acetic acid in rats.
Moreover, the extract exhibited a significant inhibition in yeast-induced
pyrexia in rats. In the acetic acid-induced writhing response, the extract markedly reduced the number of writhings at doses of 200 and 400 mg/kg (po) in mice
6)Nootropic activity of Blue butterfly pea plant
This research is about the improvement of cognitive performance of some experimental animals.
In traditional Indian system of medicine this has been a brain tonic and people had been using this to promote memory and intelligence for many years. In this study, the effectiveness of alcoholic extracts of aerial and root parts of C. ternatea at 300
and 500 mg/kg doses orally in rats in attenuating electroshock-induced amnesia. Extracts atn300 mg/kg dose produced significant memory retention and the root parts were found to be more effective.
Other than these …
Butterfly blue pea flower belongs to the family Fabaceae which means the pea family. Specialty of this plant is the ability to fix atmospheric Nitrogen. The root knots of this plant is helpful for the symbiotic micro organism Rhizobium to reside there.So if the plant grows in your garden , it makes the soil fertile by adding usable forms of Nitrogen to the soil in your garden. More over people have been growing clitoria varieties for fodder but not in Sri Lanka.
So, as a whole blue butterfly pea flower is not just a a natural colorant that makes beautiful food stuffs, it is also rich in number of ways. Apart from those mentioned above there is a part yet to be discovered for the science.