The delightful blue pea flowers grow on climbing plants. This plant species that is part of the Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) or pea family, blue pea is also known as butterfly pea, bluebellvine, Darwin pea, Anchan, and several other names. In India, it’s called Shankha Pushpi.
It originated in equatorial Asian lands – especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand – but it is now grown and enjoyed all over the world.
The blue pea vine sports beautifully coloured flowers in a shape that resembles female genitalia, and this rich feature gives the blue pea flower its botanical name, clitoria ternatea (klit-OH-ree-uh tern-AH-tee-ah). The ternatea part translates as “set in threes,” referring to the structure of the leaves and flowers along the vine. Other sources claim the flower looks like a butterfly with wings spread, and they call it butterfly pea flower.
The flowers are usually a deep blue, often with some yellow markings; and sometimes they are white or light purple. They are edible, with a flavour that’s close to black tea or a fine green tea, with an earthy, woody taste.
Blue pea flowers make a delicious tea and are used in a variety of other recipes. They’re known for many important health benefits. But the most striking thing about these beautiful flowers is their colour, and their ability to lend tea or foods an enchanting blue hue. What’s more, the tea provides a surprising entertainment: at first it is the deep blue colour, and then, if you add a squeeze of lemon, the colour slowly transforms to a brilliant pinkish-violet. Mix the blue pea flowers with fuchsia roselle hibiscus flowers and the tea becomes bright red.
Blue pea flowers are used in drinks and foods, and they’re also used to make dyes. The plants attract bees and butterflies, serving the garden as a powerful pollinator. They’re much appreciated simply as an ornamental plant, as well, and they are used in agriculture as an effective cover crop.