Two related species of the family Fabeaceae - Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea) and Clitoria mariana (Pigeonwings) – are very similar in overall size and appearance. Upon closer inspection they differ in color and detailed appearance. It’s easy to confuse them at a casual glance. Both are vines that climb bushes and trails across the ground. Centrosema virginianum is known by the common names Spurred Butterfly Pea, Butterflypea, and Climbing Butterfly-pea. Centrosema virginianum begins to bloom in early June.
I’ve seen it at Fort Yargo State Park where it grows at several places around the lake; in most places it’s only visible from the water. It can been seen just south of the campground along the trail from the campground to the dam (segment 6), south of the Fishing Area (segment 13), along the trail from the pedestrian bridge at Section B towards the dam (segment 2), and just east of the swimming beach (segment 14). It also grows along backroads at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.
A view of flowers on the ledge above the lake seen just south of the campground along the trail from the campground to the dam (segment 6). This photo was taken from the water.
A flower with leaves (segment 14).
A closer view.
Flowers, up close.
With a Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans), a
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)?, and a
Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)? or Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)? totally engrossed in collecting pollen. This photograph was taken in the early morning light; the flower color is distorted by the color temperature of the light.
Seed pods develop and finally burst to release seeds, leaving the twisted halves of the seed pods attached to the vine. This seed pod was photographed at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.
Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea) is native to the southeastern United States.
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- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Centrosema virginianum
- Southeastern Flora: Butterflypea (Centrosema virginianum)
- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Centrosema virginianum (Climbing Butterfly-pea, Spurred Butterfly Pea)
- Alabama Plants: Centrosema virginianum
- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index