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Clitoria fairchildiana


Clitoria fairchildiana R. A. Howard

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Neurocarpum racemosum, Ternatea racemosa, Centrosema spicata, Clitoria racemosa
Common Name: Orchid Tree, Butterfly Pea Tree, Philippine Pigeonwings


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded, Weeping / Pendulous
Maximum Height 8 m to 15 m


Native Distribution Brazil
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Small to medium-sized tree with low branching and pendulous branches. Crown bushy and rounded. Significant nitrogen-fixing with high degree of root nodulation.Leaves trifoliate with rough texture, evergreen in Singapore but winter-deciduous in native Brazil. Flowers pale violet, pea-like, slightly fragrant, produced in pendant inflorescences. Fruits are long woody explosive pods, maturing from green to brown, with several seeds.Can be planted in groves for screening or create a forested effect. Also suitable as shade tree in parks. If used along streets and in carparks, lower branches may need to be pruned for clearance.May be prone to aphids. Host plant for sucking pest Euphalerus clitoriae psyllids -- small (2-5 mm long), soft-bodied insect resembling miniature cicada, which lays eggs at bottom of leaf surface, and feeds on leaves and branches, causing yellowing and shedding of foliage.Species epithet 'fairchidiana' named after David Grandison Fairchild (1869 - 1954), American botanist and agricultural explorer for USDA, responsible for introducing more than 200,000 types of exotic species and agricultural varieties to USA.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Flowers
Food (Herb and Spice)
Others: Blue anthocyanin pigment in flower petals sometimes used to dye Peranakan kueh (glutinous rice cakes). Anti-inflammatory rotenoids isolated from roots, supporting traditional use of Clitioria species extracts to treat inflammatory conditions.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers) (Day)
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, General, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, Hedge / Screening
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Weak Branches

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Diseases May be prone to aphids.
Pest(s) Associated with
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Rough, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Compound (Trifoliate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Greyish-white
Mature Bark Texture Cracked, Smooth
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Purple
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Legume / Pod

Image Repository



Master ID 1521
Species ID 2814
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.