Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea) & Clitoria mariana (Atlantic Pigeonwings)

July 21st, 2012. Both Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea) and Clitoria mariana (Atlantic Pigeonwings) grow at Fort Yargo State Park. The first time I saw Clitoria mariana, I didn’t look really closely. I thought it was a color variant of Centrosema virginianum. When I did look closer, I assumed that it was a different species of the same genus. A little research revealed, however, that these plants belonged to different genera.
After that, I kept an eye out for both species. I’ve seen Centrosema virginianum quite frequently on our travels but have rarely seen Clitoria mariana. Then, on July 21st, we saw both species in Greene County. Centrosema virginianum was growing in drier areas including the pine forests. The only place we saw Clitoria mariana was in a relatively shaded area on the embankment opposite the embankment on which we found the Amanita jacksonii (American Caesar’s) mushrooms.
Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea)

Growing at the edge of a pine forest in Greene County. This was photographed in the late afternoon.

The plant was starting to develop seed pods.


I took these photographs at Fort Yargo State Park in 2010.

Clitoria mariana (Atlantic Pigeonwings)

Growing on the embankment opposite where we found the Amanita jacksonii mushrooms

A closer view


I took these photographs at Fort Yargo State Park in 2010

When we were at Fort Yargo State Park last Monday evening, we walked the trail along the lake at Picnic Area #1 and found many plants blooming and some with ripe seeds. This photograph was taken using flash illumination.

It’s interesting that both species are fairly widely distributed in Georgia. We’ve seen the Centrosema virginianum plants more frequently and in relatively dry areas. By contrast, this is the first time that we’ve seen Clitoria mariana outside Fort Yargo State Park. I get the impression that Clitoria mariana requires more humid conditions than Centrosema virginianum.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
Southeastern Flora:
- Clitoria mariana (Pigeonwings) 
Name that Plant: Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:
- Clitoria mariana (Butterfly Pea) 
Alabama Plants: Centrosema virginianum (Spurred Butterfly Pea) 
Missouri Plants: Clitoria mariana

United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:
University of North Carolina Herbarium:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to THANK you for these great photos! You have been so thorough that it was easy to identify the Clitoria mariana that I just discovered on my property today. I am about 20 min outside Raleigh, on a half acre. Isurrounded by numerous tall trees. I was startled by the simple beauty on this ONE flower. Searched ladybird's sight and various wildflower databases. Two hours into this -- there you are! Your photos are glorious, BTW. Keep on taking those!