Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Clitoria ternatea
(butterfly-pea)

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Datasheet

Clitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Clitoria ternatea
  • Preferred Common Name
  • butterfly-pea
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. ternatea is a pasture legume also commercialized as a garden ornamental that has been widely introduced in agroforestry systems in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Traits such as its high growt...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Clitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea); flower and leaves. India. December 2009.
TitleFlower and leaves
CaptionClitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea); flower and leaves. India. December 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Clitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea); flower and leaves. India. December 2009.
Flower and leavesClitoria ternatea (butterfly-pea); flower and leaves. India. December 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Clitoria ternatea L.

Preferred Common Name

  • butterfly-pea

Other Scientific Names

  • Clitoria albiflora Mattei
  • Clitoria bracteata Poir.
  • Clitoria coelestris Siebert and Voss
  • Clitoria parviflora Raf.
  • Clitoria philippensis Perr.
  • Clitoria pilosula Benth.
  • Clitoria ternatensium Crantz
  • Lathyrus spectabilis Forssk.
  • Nauchea ternatea (L.) Descourt.
  • Ternatea ternatea (L.) Kuntze
  • Ternatea vulgaris Kunth
  • Ternatea vulgaris Kuntze

International Common Names

  • English: Asian pigeonwings; blue clitoria; blue pea vine; butterfly pea; cordofan pea; cordofan-pea; pigeon wings
  • Spanish: bejuco de conchitas; campanilla; chorreque azul; conchita de mar; papito; zapatillo de la reina
  • French: clitore de ternate; honte; pois hallier
  • Chinese: die dou

Local Common Names

  • Australia: Asian pigeon-wings; butterfly pea
  • Bahamas: blue pea
  • Brazil: cunha
  • Cambodia: rum'choan
  • Cayman Islands: blue bell; blue pea
  • Cuba: bejuco de conchitas; conchita; conchita azul; conchita blanca; conchita doble; manto de vieja
  • Dominican Republic: bejuco de conchitas; conchitas; diversion de los caminantes
  • El Salvador: zapatillo de la reina
  • Germany: Blaue Schmetterlingswicke
  • Haiti: honte
  • Indonesia: bunga biru; kembang telang
  • Italy: fagiolo indiano
  • Jamaica: blue pea
  • Laos: 'ang s'an dam; bang s'an dam
  • Lesser Antilles: pigeon-wings; pois hallier; pois marron; pois sauvage
  • Malaysia: bunga biru; kacang telang
  • Philippines: kolokanting
  • Puerto Rico: bejuco de conchitas; conchitas, papito; deleite
  • Thailand: anchan

EPPO code

  • CXCTE (Clitoria ternatea)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. ternatea is a pasture legume also commercialized as a garden ornamental that has been widely introduced in agroforestry systems in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Traits such as its high growth-rates, drought tolerance and adaptation to heavy clay soils suggest that this species could be used to improve natural grasslands (Staples, 1992). However, these traits have also helped this species to escape from cultivation and become an invasive species in river banks, creek lines, the margins of waterholes, irrigation channels, disturbed sites, roadsides and disturbed open woodlands and grasslands in Australia, Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, Fiji, and on many islands in the Pacific region (Smith, 1985; Wagner et al., 1999; PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). C. ternatea is an aggressive colonizer of disturbed sites and open areas with the capability to displace and completely outcompete native vegetation (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Past risk assessments have given it a score of 7 (reject) for Australia and 9 (high risk) for the Pacific (PIER, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Clitoria
  •                                     Species: Clitoria ternatea

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Fabaceae is one of the most diverse families of flowering plants. This family includes about 745 genera and 19,500 species which can be found throughout the world growing in a great variety of climates and environments (Stevens, 2012). Species in the subfamiliy Papilionoideae (also known as Faboideae) are trees, shrubs, and herbs that may be easily recognized by their classical pea-shaped flowers and the frequent occurrence of root nodulation (Stevens, 2012). The genus name Clitoria refers to the similarity of the flowers to human female genitalia. Many vernacular names of the plant in local languages also derive from the shape of the flowers.

Description

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The following description is taken from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2016):

Herbs. Stems twining, slender, densely deciduous adpressed shortly villous. Leaves 2.5–5 cm, pinnately 5- to 7-foliolate, usually 5-foliolate; stipules small, linear, 2–5 mm; petiole 1.5–3 cm; stipels small, bristlelike; petiolules 1–2 mm; leaflets broadly elliptic or almost ovate, 2.5–5 x 1.5–3.5 cm, thinly papery or almost membranous, adpressed shortly villous or some­times glabrous on both surfaces, lateral veins 4 or 5 pairs, base obtuse, apex obtuse, slightly emarginate, usually with mucro. Flowers large, solitary in axil; bracteoles green, small, suborbicular or obovate, membranous, with obvious reticulate veins. Calyx membranous, 1.5–2 cm, 5-lobed; lobes lanceolate, less than 1/2 of tube, apex acuminate. Corolla sky blue, pink, or white, to 5.5 cm; standard faintly white or orange in middle, broadly obovate, ca. 3 cm, base shortly clawed; wings and keels much shorter than standard, both clawed; wings obovate-oblong; keels elliptic. Ovary villous. Legume brown, linear-oblong, 5–11 x 0.7–1 cm, compressed, with long beak. Seeds 6–10, black, oblong, ca. 0.6 x 0.4 cm, with obvious strophiole.

There are varieties with double flowers and white flowers (Flora of Panama, 2016).

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

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The origin of C. ternatea is obscured by the extensive cultivation or naturalization of this species across the tropics (Staples, 1992). Currently, this species is considered native to Africa and probably to India (ILDIS, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). It can be found naturalized throughout the humid and sub-humid lowlands of Asia, Australia, the south of the United States (i.e. Florida, Georgia, Texas and California), Mexico, Central and South America, the West Indies, and on several Pacific islands (ILDIS, 2016; PIER, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AngolaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
BeninPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
BurundiPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
Cabo VerdePresentNativeILDIS (2016)
CameroonPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
Central African RepublicPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
ChadPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
ComorosPresentILDIS (2016)
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
DjiboutiPresentILDIS (2016)
EthiopiaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
GabonPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
GambiaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
GhanaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
GuineaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
KenyaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
MadagascarPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
MauritiusPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
-RodriguesPresentILDIS (2016)
MozambiquePresentNativeILDIS (2016)
NigerPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
São Tomé and PríncipePresentNativeILDIS (2016)
SenegalPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
Seychelles
-Aldabra IslandsPresentILDIS (2016)
Sierra LeonePresentNativeILDIS (2016)
SomaliaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
South AfricaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
SudanPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
TanzaniaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
TogoPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
UgandaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
ZambiaPresentNativeILDIS (2016)
ZimbabwePresentNativeILDIS (2016)

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
BhutanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
CambodiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
ChinaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2016)
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2016)
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2016)
-HainanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2016)
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2016)
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2016)
Hong KongPresentIntroducedWu (2001)
IndiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeILDIS (2016)Probably native
-AssamPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-BiharPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-GujaratPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-HaryanaPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-KarnatakaPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-KeralaPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-Madhya PradeshPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-MaharashtraPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-ManipurPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-RajasthanPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-Tamil NaduPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-Uttar PradeshPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-West BengalPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
-Irian JayaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
-JavaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
-Lesser Sunda IslandsPresentILDIS (2016)Probably native
-Maluku IslandsPresentILDIS (2016)
-SulawesiPresentIntroducedILDIS (2016)
-SumatraPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
IranPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
IraqPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
LaosPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016); ILDIS (2016)Naturalized
-SabahPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
MaldivesPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
MyanmarPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2016)
NepalPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
PakistanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
SingaporePresentIntroducedInvasiveChong et al. (2009); USDA-ARS (2016)
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
TaiwanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
ThailandPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
VietnamPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
YemenPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized

Europe

GermanyPresentIntroducedILDIS (2016)

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
ArubaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
BarbadosPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
BelizePresentIntroducedILDIS (2016)
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba
-Sint EustatiusPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
CubaPresentIntroducedOviedo Prieto et al. (2012)Listed as “potentially invasive”
DominicaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
HondurasPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
MexicoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized in Jalisco, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Veracruz, and Colima
MontserratPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)St Barthelemy
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
PanamaPresentIntroducedILDIS (2016)
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Sint MaartenPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
United States
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2016)
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2016)
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2016)
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasiveWagner et al. (1999)
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
-MissouriPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2016)

Oceania

Australia
-Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeeds of Australia (2016)
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeeds of Australia (2016)
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeeds of Australia (2016)
Christmas IslandPresentIntroducedInvasiveOrchard (1993); USDA-ARS (2016)
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroducedHerrera et al. (2010)
FijiPresentIntroducedInvasiveSmith (1985)
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWelsh (1998)
GuamPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)
KiribatiPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedLorence and Wagner (2013)
NauruPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveMacKee (1994)
NiuePresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)
PalauPresentIntroducedInvasiveSpace et al. (2003)
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)
PitcairnPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
SamoaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveHancock and Henderson (1988)
TongaPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
VanuatuPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
Brazil
-AcrePresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-BahiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-CearaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-PiauiPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
-SergipePresentIntroducedNaturalizedRando and Souza (2015)Naturalized
ColombiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
EcuadorPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveCharles Darwin Foundation (2008)
French GuianaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
GuyanaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
PeruPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
SurinamePresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized
UruguayPresentIntroducedILDIS (2016)
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2016)Naturalized

History of Introduction and Spread

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This species has been widely introduced in the tropics as a forage legume, and has escaped from cultivation and become naturalized in many areas. In Hawaii, C. ternatea is listed as a popular ornamental naturalized prior to 1871 (Wagner et al., 1999). In Australia it was collected in 1968 and the cultivar 'Milgarra' was released in 1990 (Cook et al., 2005). In the West Indies, this species appears in herbarium collections made in 1881 in St Thomas, 1885 in Puerto Rico, 1900 in Jamaica, 1903 in Bahamas, 1904 in Cuba and 1910 in the Dominican Republic (US National Herbarium).

Risk of Introduction

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This species is commonly used in agroforestry systems and widely commercialized around the world (Staples, 1992; USDA-ARS, 2016). It has repeatedly escaped from cultivation and can be found naturalized across tropical regions of the world. Therefore, the likelihood to escape from cultivation and colonize new areas is very high.  

Habitat

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Within its natural range, C. ternatea grows in grassland, open woodland, bushlands, riverine vegetation and disturbed forests (Staples, 1992). In Australia, it has escaped cultivation and can be found invading river banks, creek lines, the margins of waterholes, irrigation channels, disturbed sites, roadsides and disturbed open woodlands and grasslands (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

In Hawaii, C. ternatea is often cultivated as an ornamental and it has escaped to disturbed areas and thickets (PIER, 2016). In Fiji, it can be found cultivated and also naturalized along roadsides and in villages, clearings, and cane fields, at elevations up to about 300 m (Smith, 1985). In the Galápagos Islands, this species grows in arid lowlands (McMullen, 1999). In Central America, it can be found cultivated and also naturalized along roadsides, pastures, and disturbed sites in dry and wet forests at elevations from sea level to 650 m (Flora of Panama, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for C. ternatea varies from 2n = 14 to 2n = 16 (Gandhi and Patil, 1993; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016).

Breeding system

Flowers of C. ternatea are cleistogamous, but a small level of outcrossing occurs and most flowers are self-pollinated. In the wild, flowers are visited by insects, primarily bees (Staples, 1992).

Physiology and Phenology

C. ternatea is a perennial climbing, scrambling or trailing herb with a strong woody rootstock. Individual plants may live for several years and grow into large vines if undisturbed. C. ternatea shows epigeal germination. The radicle emerges within 48–72 hours and seedlings emerge in 3–6 days. Early growth is rapid in warm moist conditions.

This fast-growing herb can cover the ground in 4–6 weeks when sown at a population of 4 plants/m² (Staples, 1992; Cook et al., 2005). Growth of established plants is mostly from the apices of the main axis and axillary branches; very few new shoots arise from ground level. Growth is more or less continuous in the tropics (Staples, 1992; Cook et al., 2005).

In China, C. ternatea has been recorded flowering and fruiting from June to November (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016). In Panama, it has been collected with flowers in February, April, July, August and November (Flora of Panama, 2016). In Costa Rica, flowering can occur throughout the year (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016).

Pods mature in 8–10 weeks after flowering and break readily once fully dry. Hand-harvested seed often remains hard-seeded for a long time and requires scarification prior to sowing. Mechanical abrasion, hot water or sulphuric acid can be used to break this dormancy (Staples, 1992; Cook et al., 2005; FAO, 2016).

Associations

As with other nitrogen-fixing legumes, C. ternatea has a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria (Cook et al., 2005). In cultivation, C. ternatea has been grown successfully with Pennisetum purpureum, Digitaria eriantha, Andropogon gayanus, Dichanthium aristatum, Cenchrus ciliaris, Chloris gayana,Sorghum bicolor, and Megathyrsus maximum (Cook et al., 2005).

Environmental Requirements

C. ternatea prefers to grow in humid and sub-humid habitats at elevations from sea level to 1600–1800 m and mean annual temperature ranging from 15 to 28°C (Staples, 1992). It is adapted to a wide range of soil types from sandy to deep alluvial loams and heavy clays with pH ranging from 5.5 to 8.9 (McCosker and Osten, 1999; FAO, 2016). This species shows drought tolerance and it is able to grow in dry and semiarid habitats with annual rainfall ranging from 500 to 900 mm and survive for up to 5-6 months with only 400 mm of rainfall. C. ternatea also shows moderate frost tolerance and some tolerance to salinity conditions. This species does not tolerate flooding or waterlogging. It is normally grown in full sunlight but moderately shade-tolerant (Staples, 1992; Cook et al., 2005; FAO, 2016).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20 24

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall5001500mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Meloidogyne incognita Parasite Other/All Stages not specific
Pratylenchus Parasite Other/All Stages not specific
Thanetophorus cucumeris Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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C. ternatea is affected by fungal leaf diseases (e.g. Cercospora, Colletotrichum, Oidium and Rhizoctonia). Under wet conditions it is attacked by Rhizoctonia microsclerotia [Thanatephorus microsclerotium] and Corticium solani [Thanetophorus cucumeris] in Central America and Africa (FAO, 2016). It is also susceptible to the root nematode species Meloidgyne incognita (Cook et al., 2005). Grass hoppers and leaf-eating caterpillars have been recorded damaging plants in Australia and Costa Rica (Staples, 1992).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Widely introduced by humans across Australia, Africa, tropical Asia, Central and South America and South-East Asia to be used as a forage plant and to improve natural grassland in extensive farm systems (Staples, 1992). Once introduced, C. ternatea spreads by seeds, which are thrown vigorously from the dehiscing dry pods. Seeds can also by dispersed in cattle dung (Staples, 1992).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal productionPlanted for forage, hay and silage Yes Yes Staples, 1992
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from cultivation Yes Weeds of Australia, 2016
ForagePlanted for forage, hay and silage Yes Yes Staples, 1992
Habitat restoration and improvementUsed as ground cover, soil improver Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
Medicinal useUsed in traditional Asian medicine Yes Yes Gomez and Kalamani, 2003
Ornamental purposesOften used as ornamental Yes Yes Wagner et al., 1999

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds Yes Yes Weeds of Australia, 2016
LivestockSeeds dispersed in cattle dung Yes Yes Staples, 1992

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Environmental Impact

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C. ternateais regarded as an environmental weed in Australia (Weeds of Australia, 2016). It also listed as invasive in Hawaii, Fiji, French Polynesia, and the Galapagos Islands where it has invaded riparian zones, disturbed sites, grasslands and open woodlands (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Because C. ternatea is a nitrogen-fixing species, it has the capacity to alter chemical soil conditions, nutrient cycling and trophic levels in invaded ecosystems, with negative effects on native vegetation principally in nutrient-poor ecosystems that did not previously contain nitrogen-fixing plants (Smith, 1985; Staples, 1992; Wagner et al., 1999; Cook et al., 2005; PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Culinary Uses

The butterfly pea flower yields a very valuable blue food colouring, one of the very few sources of edible blue colour, and is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. It is used to colour confectionery in Malaysia and is added to Peranakan dishes such as nasi kerabu, pulut inti, kuih tekan, pulut tai tai and the savoury nyonya zhang (rice dumplings) (Pwee, 2016). The common Thai drink nam dok anchan is coloured with the flower and served with pandan-flavoured syrup and lime juice; when used with lime juice, the blue colour changes to a pinkish purple colour. The flowers are dipped in batter and fried and eaten as snacks in Myanmar. In Kerala and the Philippines, tender fruits are used as a vegetable (Anon, 2011; Anon, 2012). Blue petals are used in decorating and garnishing salads, soups and ice cream and in many other dishes. A flower extract made in hot water can be used to prepare various desserts, jams and similar products (Halvorsen, 2012; Pwee, 2016). A famous dish using butterfly pea is the blue rice of Indonesia and Thailand, generally known as scented blue rice,  Dried petals of the blue variety are used in a herbal tea combination. The blue colour extracted from the flowers is also used in the pharmaceutical industry (Ravindran, 2017). 

Economic Value

C. ternatea is a highly palatable forage legume generally preferred by livestock over other legumes. It exhibits excellent regrowth within a short period after grazing and produces high yields. It is also grown as a green manure, ground cover crop, for rotational grazing, protein banks, hay and silage production (Gomez and Kalamani, 2003; Cook et al., 2005; FAO, 2016; PROTA, 2016). Its drought tolerance and adaptation to heavy clay soils, and the palatability and quality of its forage, suggest it could be used to improve natural grassland in extensive farm systems in tropical areas (Staples, 1992).

Social Benefit

C. ternatea is grown as an ornamental plant on fences and trellises because of its showy blue or white flowers, and is also grown for dye production and medicinal purposes (Staples, 1992; Gomez and Kalamani, 2003; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016).

Environmental Services

C. ternatea is often planted to increase soil fertility and improve yields of crops such as maize, sorghum, and wheat (FAO, 2016). In Australia it has been used as a revegetation species on coal mines (Cook et al., 2005).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil improvement

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Vegetable

Materials

  • Dyestuffs
  • Green manure

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

In Australia, the herbicides imazethapyr and bentazone have been used to control this species (Cook et al., 2005; McCosker and Osten, 1999).

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, no. 98. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington DC, 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Anon, 2011. Indonesia eats unga telang (blue pea vine or butterfly pea). http://indonesiaeats.com/blue-vine-butterfy-pea-bunga-telang-teleng-biru

Anon, 2012. Food additives – butterfly pea. http://www.sensiblebite.com/2012/10/blue-food-colour-butterfly-pea.html

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos. Galapagos, Ecuador: Charles Darwin Foundation

Chong KY, Tan HTW, Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf

Conway MJ, McCosker K, Osten V, Coaker S, Pengelly PC, 2001. Butterfly Pea: A legume success story in cropping lands of Central Queensland. In: Aust. Agron. Conference 2001, Adoption, Extension and Education , 10

Cook BG, Pengelly BC, Brown SD, Donnelly JL, Eagles DA, Franco MA, Hanson J, Mullen BF, Partridge IJ, Peters M, Schultze-Kraft R, 2005. Tropical Forages: an interactive selection tool. CSIRO, DPI&F(Qld), CIAT and ILRI, Brisbane, Australia. http://www.tropicalforages.info/

FAO, 2016. Grassland species profiles. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/Gbase/Default.htm

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Flora of Panama, 2016. Flora of Panama (WFO), Tropicos website. St. Louis, MO and Cambridge, MA, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FOPWFO

Gandhi S, Patil VP, 1993. Chromosome morphology of Clitoria ternatea and C. biflora. 58, 133-138.

Gomez SM, Kalamani A, 2003. Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea): a nutritive multipurpose forage legume for the tropics: an overview. 2, 374-379.

Halvorsen PK, 2012. Butterfly pea flower, blue and purple food color extract recipe . https://praneesthaikitchen.com/tag/butterfly-pea-tea/

Hancock IR, Henderson CP, 1988. Flora of the Solomon Islands. Research Bulletin - Dodo Creek Research Station, No. 7. Honiara, Solomon Islands ii + 203 pp

Herrera K, Lorence DH, Flynn T, Balick MJ, 2010. Lawai, Hawai‘i, USA, National Tropical Botanical Garden.146 pp.

ILDIS, 2016. International Legume Database and Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Lorence DH, Wagner WL, 2013. Flora of the Marquesas Islands. National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/marquesasflora/

MacKee HS, 1994. Catalogue of introduced and cultivated plants in New Caledonia. (Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie.) Paris, France: Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, unpaginated

McCosker M, Osten V, 1999. Competition and weed management studies in butterfly pea Clitoria ternatea. In: Bishop AC, Boersma M, Barnes CD, Eds. Twelfth Australian Weeds Conference proceedings - weed management into the 21st Century: do we know where we're going? ISBN 0646395351

McMullen CK, 1999. Ithaca, New York, USA, Comstock Publisher Assoc.370 pp.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Orchard AE, 1993. Canberra, Australia, Australian Government Publishing Service.

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff MG, et al., 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011.) Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96

PIER, 2016. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.htm

PROTA, 2016. PROTA4U web database. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp

Pwee T, 2016. Butterfly pea. Singapore Infopedia . http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_763_2004-12-20.html

Rando JG, Souza VC, 2015. Clitoria in Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/jabot/floradobrasil/FB22894

Smith AC, 1985. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii, USA, National Tropical Botanic Gardens.758 pp.

Space JC, Waterhouse BM, Miles JE, Tiobech J, Rengulbai K, 2003. Report to the Republic of Palau on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Honolulu, USA: USDA Forest Service

Staples IB, 1992. Clitoria ternatea L. Record from Proseabase. In: Mannetje L, Jones RM, Eds. Bogor, Indonesia: PROSEA (Plant Resources of South-East Asia) Foundation. http://www.proseanet.org

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, USA. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_search.pl

USDA-NRCS, 2015. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Sohmer SH, 1999. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, University of Hawaii Press/Bishop Museum Press.1919 pp.

Weeds of Australia, 2016. Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition. http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-0605030c0f01/media/Html/search.html?zoom_query=

Welsh SL, 1998. Orem, Utah, USA, EPS Inc.420 pp.

Wu TL, 2001. Check List of Hong Kong Plants. Hong Kong Herbarium and the South China Institute of Botany. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Bulletin 1 (revised):384 pp. http://www.hkflora.com/v2/flora/plant_check_list.php

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database., Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.htm

Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos., Galapagos, Ecuador: Charles Darwin Foundation.

Chong KY, Tan HTW, Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species., Singapore, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore. 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016. Flora of China. In: Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Hancock I R, Henderson C P, 1988. Flora of the Solomon Islands. In: Research Bulletin - Dodo Creek Research Station, Honiara, Solomon Islands: ii + 203 pp.

Herrera K, Lorence D H, Flynn T, Balick M J, 2010. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia with Local Names and Uses. Allertonia. 1-192. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23193787

ILDIS, 2016. International Legume Database and Information Service., Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Lorence DH, Wagner WL, 2013. Flora of the Marquesas Islands., National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/marquesasflora/

MacKee HS, 1994. Catalogue of introduced and cultivated plants in New Caledonia. (Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie)., Paris, France: Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. 164 pp.

Orchard A E, 1993. Flora of Australia. Vol. 50, Oceanic islands 2. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service. unpaginated.

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff M G, et al, 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba. 6 (Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.

PIER, 2016. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk., Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.htm

Rando JG, Souza VC, 2015. (Clitoria in Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil)., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/jabot/floradobrasil/FB22894

Smith A C, 1985. Flora Vitiensis nova: a new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Volume 3: Angiospermae: Dicotyledones, families 117-163. Lawai, Hawaii, USA: Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden. vi + 758 pp.

Space JC, Waterhouse BM, Miles JE, Tiobech J, Rengulbai K, 2003. Report to the Republic of Palau on invasive plant species of environmental concern., Honolulu, USA: USDA Forest Service.

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2016. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Wagner W L, Herbst D R, Sohmer S H, 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i, Vols. 1 & 2. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawai'i Press/Bishop Museum Press. 1918 + [1] pp.

Weeds of Australia, 2016. Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition., http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-0605030c0f01/media/Html/search.html?zoom_query=

Welsh SL, 1998. Orem., Utah, USA: EPS Inc. 420 pp.

Wu TL, 2001. Check List of Hong Kong Plants. In: Hong Kong Herbarium and the South China Institute of Botany. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Bulletin 1 (revised), 384 pp. http://www.hkflora.com/v2/flora/plant_check_list.php

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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06/09/16 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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