Butterfly Pea

Clitoria ternatea


  • Strongly vigorous and persistent perennial
  • Suited to cracking clay soils in drier areas of Queensland
  • Palatable, high digestibility and nutrient concentrations
  • Tolerates a wide range of soil types and may have some Rhizobium specificity.



    Species Origin

    Africa but was successfully introduced into Asia and the Americas.



    Milgarra butterfly pea is a variety jointly released by DPI and CSIRO in 1991 from a composite of 18 introductions. It is a strongly vigorous and persistent perennial suited to cracking clay soils in drier areas of Queensland. The crop is palatable and has high digestibility and nutrient concentrations. It performs best on higher rainfall (1500mm). Although frost susceptible, it can recover and regenerate rapidly. It tolerates a wide range of soil types and may have some Rhizobium specificity.


    Plant Characteristics

    Growth habit – widely distributed throughout the humid lowland tropics of Africa, Asia and Central America. Flowers can develop 4-6 weeks after sowing in favourable environments. Flowers are white to blue colour, the latter more common. The crop is good in seed and forage production.Uses – useful as a fodder crop in Africa also large blue flowers used as ornamentals, especially in Asian countries. However it has poor survival rate under intensive grazing or frequent cutting.


    Seed Characteristics

    Freshly harvested seeds can have hard seed coat 61% hard and may require scarification to improve germination. Seeds stored for 5 months or more will remain viable. Seeds are relatively large – 23,000 seeds/kg.


    Recommended Seeding Rate

    Bare seed at 4-8 kg/ha

    Coated seed at 4-6kg/ha


    Tropical Legumes

    Unlike tropical grasses, Tropical legumes are often more digestible, have higher protein & energy. Whilst monocultures of tropical legumes can be grown, often they are used in conjunction with tropical grasses to improve the overall quality of tropical pasture systems.