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Family Leguminosae / Fabaceae
Butterfly pea
Centrosema pubescens

Ju ban dou

Scientific names Common names
Bradburya pubescens (Benth.) Kuntze. Pukingan (Tag.)
Bradburya schiedeana (Schltdl.) Rose Butterfly pea (Eng.)
Centrosema ferrugineum A.Rich. Centro (Engl.)
Centrosema intermedium A.Rich. Fodder pea ( Engl.)
Centrosema pubescens Benth. Soft butterfly pea (Engl.)
Centrosema salzmannii Benth. Spurred butterfly pea (Engl.)
Centrosema schiedeanum (Schltdl.) R.J.Williams & R.J. Clem  
Centrosema virginianum (L.) "Benth., p.p."  
Clitorea schiedeana Schltdl.  
Ternatea schiedeana (Schltdl.) Kuntze  
Pukinggan is a common name shared by (1) Centrosema pubescens, butterfly pea; and (2) Clitorea ternatea, blue pea vine.
Butterfly pea is a English common name shared by both species.
Centrosema pubescens Benth. is an accepted name. The Plant List
See: Taxonomic note below on Centrosema molle Mart. ex Benth

Other vernacular names
AFRIKAAN: Akidi (Igbo), Ewa-ahun.
BRAZIL: Patinho, Roxinha.s
CHINESE: Ju ban dou.
FRENCH: CEntroseme pugescente, Fleur languette, Pois batard.
LAO: Thua lai.
SPANISH: Caracucho, Frijol cuchillo, Flor de conchitas, Flor de pito, Gallinita,

Botanical factoid
If you stare long enough and let your mind stray, you might appreciate how the common name Pukingan derived 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.

Taxonomic note
- The tropical forage species, known since the last century as Centrosema pubescens, was renamed Centrosema molle Mart. ex Benth. (18)

Butterfly pea is a twining herbaceous 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.

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

-Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, tannins, terpenes.
- Study of seeds isolated a new isoflavone glycoside, irisolidone 7-O-ß-D-apiofuranosyl-(1-2)B-D-glucopyranoside along with sitosterol, stigmasterol and sitosterol 3-O-ß-D-glucopyranoside. (5)
- Analysis for mineral composition yielded calcium 0.91 - 0.98%, phosphorus 0.34-0.37%, potassium 0.87 - 0.92%. sodium 0.01 - 0.03%. Crude protein was 16.0%. Biomass yield per g/plant was 56.20. Proximate composition (% in DM) of crude protein was 14.77-18.97. (10)
- Proximate composition (%DM) of forage legume 12 weeks after planting in 2001 and 2001 showed 10.99 -11.80 crude fiber, 14.77-18.97 crude protein, 6,01-6.08 ash, 4.98-4.42 ether extract, and 3181.24-3147.21 Kcal/kg, respectively. Mineral composition yielded 0.98-0.91 calcium, 0.34-0.37 phosphorus, 0.87-0.92 potassium, 0.01-0.03 sodium, respectively. (17)

- Cold tolerant with low soil and rainfall requirements.
- Studies have shown antibacterial, antifungal, immunopotentiating, larvicidal properties.

Parts used


- No recorded folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Laos, seed is crushed on applied to skin for scorpion and snake bites.
- In Nigeria, pods prepared as peppered soup taken by women postpartum for womb cleansing after delivery. (13) Leaves used for skin diseases. (14)
- Fodder: Fodder for livestock. Widely used as forage and protein source for grazing cattle.

Immunologically Active Polysaccharides / RES-Potentiating Activity:
Study isolated two polysaccharides from the powdered seeds of Centrosema pubescens. The polysaccharides showed reticuloendothelial system-potentiating activity. (1)
Pubescidin / Seeds: 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. (5)
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. (6)
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. (7)
Larvicidal-Proliferative / Apoptosis / Leaves and Stems: Study evaluated extracts of air-dried stems and leaves of C. pubescens for activity against 4th instar mosquito larvae. Results showed potential larvicidal activity of leaf and stem extracts. All plant extracts showed moderate toxic effect on mosquito larvae, with the leaf extract showing highest mortality. Study suggests potential as an eco-friendly alternative for the control of mosquito larvae. (9)
Immunologically Active Polysaccharides / Seeds: Fractionation of powdered seeds yielded two polysacchardes that showed reticuloendothelial system-potentiating activity in a carbon clearance test. (11)
Antibacterial / Antifungal / Leaves: Rhizomes of Zingeber officinale and leaves of C. pubescens were tested for antimicrobial activity. The ethanolic extract of both plants were active against S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, S. typhi, and E. coli. C. pubescens showed significant activity against Candida albicans. (1
• Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated oven dried and freeze dried ethanol extracts of four common forage legume leaves, viz., Arachis pintoi (Pintoi), C. mucunoides (Calapo), Centrosema pubescens (Centro) and Stylosanthes guanensis (Stylo) for antioxidant activity. All four type of forage legume leaves exhibited strong scavenging effects to DPPH radicals, strong reducing power, and high ß-carotene bleaching inhibitory activities with respect to phenolic content. Arachis pintoi total phenolic content was 7.5 mg GAE/g. Freeze-dried extracts exhibited excellent antioxidant capacities with higher phenolic content. (15)

- Wild-crafted.
- Seeds in the cybermarket.

Updated Nov 2018 / Feb 2018 / Apr 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Immunologically active polysaccharides from Centrosema pubescens / B P da Silva, J B Tostes, J P Parente /
Fitoterapia, Sept 2000; 71(5): pp 516-521 / DOI: 10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00207-0 
Centrosema pubescens is now Centrosema molle / Rainer-Schultze Kraft / CIAT/ Partners in Reserach Cultivating the Future
The role of medicinal plants in the provision of health care in Lao PDR / Claudio O Delang / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 1(3), pp. 050-059, October 2007
/ Rodrigo Duno de Stefano, Paul R Frantz et al / Vulpia, Vol. 7, 2008, pp. 1–15.
Pubescidin, an isoflavone glycoside from Centrosema pubescens / Joao B F Tostes, Antonio Da Silva and Jose Parente / Phytochemistry, Volume 45, Issue 5, July 1997, Pages 1069-1072 / doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(97)00097-6
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): pp 1143-59.
Centrosema pubescens / Synonyms / The Plant List
LARVICIDAL POTENTIAL OF THE CRUDE ETHANOLIC EXTRACTS OF CENTROSEMA PUBESCENS BENTH / Erwin Cayabyab Mina / BMJ Open, Vol 5, Issue, Suppl 1 / https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4008731/
Biomass, dry matter yield, proximate and mineral composition of forage legumes grown as early dry season feeds / F C Nworgu and F T Ajayi* / Livestock Research for Rural Development 17 (11) 2005
Immunologically active polysaccharides from Centrosema pubescens. / da Silva BP , Tostes JB , Parente JP / Fitoterapia [2000, 71(5):516-521] DOI: 10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00207-0
Heavy metal analysis and phytochemical screening of two indigenous species (Zingiber officinale and Centrosema pubescens) from Nigeria / Ladipo, M.K., Doherty, V.F and Kanife, U.C / International Journal of Current Research
A Survey of Plants Used in the Treatment of Ante- Natal and Post-Natal Disorders in Nneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria / *Chima U.D., Ofodile E.A.U. and Okorie M.C.F. / Greener Journal of Biological Sciences, Vol. 3 (6), pp. 229-237, August 2013.
Some Medicinal Plant Species of Asamagbe Stream Bank Vegetation, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan / J.O. Ariwaodo, E.C. Chukwum a and K.A. Adeniji / Ethnobotany Research & Applications / www.ethnobotanyjournal.org/vol10/i1547-3465-10-541.pdf
Influence of drying treatments on antioxidant capacity of forage legume leaves / Saw Yei Sang, Fazrina Jamjaree, K Nagendra Prsad, Azrina Azlan and Nurzillah Maliki / J Food Sci Technol, 2014 May; 51(5): pp 988-993 / doi:  10.1007/s13197-011-0596-5
Centrosema (Centrosema pubescens) Leaf Meal as Protein Supplement for Pullet Chicks and Growing Pullets / FC Nworgu and FO Fasogbon / International Journal of Poultry Science (2007), Vol 6, Issue 4: 255-260
Biomass, dry matter yield, proximate and mineral composition of forage legumes grown as early dry season feeds/ F C Nworgu and F T Ajayi* / Livestock Research for Rural Development, 17(11): 2005
Centrosema molle Benth / The Plant List

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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