Sankhupushpam – Butterfly Pea Flower

Sankhupushpam is a beautiful vine plant with blue or white flowers. It is called Butterfly Pea in English. The flowers are similar to that of other pea plants.

Sankhu in Malayalam means a conch. If you watch closely, the flower has a remote resemblance to a conch. So that may be the reason behind its name.

Its scientific name is Clitoria ternatea and belongs to the family Fabaceae.

As per Ayurveda, Sankhupushpa has several health benefits. However, besides Kerala, in other parts of India, Convolvulus microphyllus is considered as Sankhupushpa whereas C. ternatea is called Aparajita. So it might create a little confusion.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: Perennial Vine Herb
Family: Fabaceae
Scientific name: Clitoria ternatea

Flowers: Blue or White

Common Names in various languages:

English: Butterfly Pea, Butterfly Bean
Sanskrit: Aparajita, Sankhapushpi
Hindi: Aparajita
Tamil: Karuvilai
Malayalam: Sankhapushpam, Sankhupushpam

Important uses:
For medicines, ornamental, religious

Sankhupushpam flower
Photo from Kerala

Description

The colors and variety of flowers are the most notable characteristics of Sankhupushpam.

Different varieties

There are mainly three varieties found in India. However, they do not occur together on the same plant. The leaves are ovate and grow opposite.

Blue flowers

This is the most common variety. The inner side of corolla has yellow patch.

Sankhupushpam - Butterfly Pea Flower
The blue flower variety of Clitoria ternatea

White Flowers

This variety is also common, often treated as C. ternatea alba.

White Sankhupushpam - Butterfly Pea Flower
White Clitoria ternatea flower
White Clitoria ternatea flower

Double-flowered

In the double-flowered form, the flowers have darker blue color compared to the normal form. This form is less common.

Double-flowered Clitoria ternatea / Sankhupushpam
Double-flowered
Double-flowered Clitoria ternatea / Sankhupushpam

Fruits

The fruits appear as seed pods which can be 10 cm long. Each pod contain up to 10 egg-shaped seeds. These are yellowish brown.

Important Uses

Medicinal: Sankhupushpam has various applications in Ayurveda and traditional medicines. It can improve intellect and memory power. The roots and flowers have medicinal values.

Apart from medicines, the blue and white flowers are used for offerings and poojas in Hindu temples, mainly for Lord Vishnu.

Being a climber, it can be grown decoratively in gardens.

Distribution & Habitat

The plant is native to the torrid zones of Asia and occur commonly in India. Now it is present in other continents also. It prefers moist soil and good sunlight.

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