If you stare long enough and let your mind stray, you might appreciate how both scientific and common names derived from the flower's similarity to the female external genitalia: clitorea from clitoris and pukingan, tagalog for vagina. (Also see: Butterfly pea, Centrosema pubescens)
Pukiñgan is a twining herb or climbing vine with cylindrical and slender
stems, sometimes up to 1 centimeter in diameter.
Leaflets are 5 to 7, elliptic to oblong, 3 to 7 centimeters
in length. Stipels are small, and acicular. Flower is solitary. Calyx is green, about 1.5 centimeters long. Corolla is 3.5 to 4 centimeters long,
with the standard deep blue with a white, yellowish, or pale-blue center. Pods are 5 to 10 centimeters long, flat, with 6 to 10 seeds.
- Throughout the Philippines, in thickets in settled areas at low
and medium altitudes.
Cultivated for its conspicuous blue flowers.
- Introduced; now pantropic.
• Studies have isolated triterpenoids, flavonol glycosides, anthocyanins and steroids.
• Root-bark contains starch, tannin and resins.
• The seeds contain a fixed oil, bitter acid resin (the active principle), tannic acid, glucose, and 6%
ash. Testa of the seed is brittle and contains a cotyledon which is full of granular starch.
• The seed is reported to contain a toxic alkaloid.
• Phytochemical screening has yielded tannins, resins, taraxerol and ternatins.
• Screening of petals of CT yielded three flavonol glycosides - kaempferol 3-O-(2″-O-α-rhamnosyl-6″-O-malonyl)-β-glucoside, quercetin 3-O-(2″-O-α-rhamnosyl-6″-O-malonyl)-β-glucoside, and myricetin 3-O-(2″,6″-di-O-α-rhamnosyl)-β-glucoside - together with 11 known flavonol glycosides.
• Roots considered laxative, diuretic, antiinflammatory and anthelmintic.
• Studies have shown pharmacologic activities: antimicrobial,
antipyretic, antiinflammatory, analgesic, diuretic, anesthetic, antidiabetic,
insecticidal, vascular smooth-muscle relaxing and platelet-aggregation
• The roots taken as purgative, have been reported to be toxic and narcotic,
causing irritability, loss of memory or unconsciousness.
• The roots and seeds are considered emetic, diuretic and emmenagogue.
• Roots considered vomitive and laxative. An alcoholic extract is used as a cathartic.
Roots, leaves, flowers, seeds.
Edibility / Culinary
• In Southeast Asia, flower pigment is used for food coloring.
• In the Philippines poultices of leaves used for swollen joints.
• Infusion of leaves is used for eruptions.
• Warm leaf juice mixed with common salt is applied around the
ears for earache.
• Leaves are used as poultices for swollen joints.
• Seeds are mildly laxative and purgative; also, antihelminthic.
• In India,
the white flowered specie is considered superior to the blue variety.
• The roots of the blue flowered variety is used for piles. For
earaches, the juice of the blue variety is used.
• The roots, in soup, used to remove phlegm in chronic bronchitis and to induce nausea and vomiting when necessary. (Note toxicity above.)
• Root-bark infusion used as demulcent for bladder and urethral irritation. Alcoholic extract has been used as a cathartic.
• For hiccups, the seeds are burned for fume inhalation; same also
used for asthma.
• Also used for throat, eye infections, skin diseases.
• To hasten delivery twinning branches of the white flowered variety
are wrapped around the waist.
• Root ash is used for facial care.
• Root powder is used for jaundice.
• Roots used to treat mental disorders and to relieve stress.
• For renal stones, the roots used with boiled rice.
• Roots and seeds used as diuretic and emmenagogue; also to induce vomiting.
• Juice of leaves mixed with green ginger used in cases of colliquative sweating in hectic fever.
• Juice of leaves mixed with common salt is applied warm around the ear for earaches, especially when accompanied by swelling of the surrounding glands.
• Root juice, applied in the nose for migraine.
• For painful boils, mix the root juice with vinegar and apply
to the boils.
• A traditional Ayurveda
medicine as a brain tonic, memory and intelligence enhancer, antidepressant,
anti-stress,anxiolytic, sedative and anticonvulsant.
• In South Travancore, India,
leaf juice taken twice daily for 6 days for scabies. source
• In West Bengal,
root juice used for fevers.
• Acetylcholine / Memory: Root extract of CT significantly increased the ACh content
in rat hippocampi. ACh
content in the hippocampus may be the neurochemical basis for improved memory and
• Anthelmintic: Study showed
the alcoholic extracts of CT with significant anthelmintic activity. (5)
• Antipyretic: The methanol
extract of CT showed dose-dependent antipyretic effect comparable to that of paracetamol. (6)
• CNS Effects: The methanol
extract study on the CNS showed it to possesses nootropic, anxiolytic,
antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. (7)
• Cytotoxic Activity: Methanol crude extract of leaves and 3 fractions (n-hexane, di-chlormethane, methanol) demonstrated promising cytotoxic activity. (8)
• Antifungal: Leaf extract exhibited considerable antifungal activity against filamentous fungi in a dose-dependent manner. (9)
• Larvicidal: Screening of natural products for mosquito larvicidal activity against Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus and Anopheles stephensi was done with three potential plant extracts. Of the three, C ternatea showed the most promising mosquito larvicidal activity. Phytochemical analysis of the seed extract showed carbohydrates, saponins, terpenoids, tannins and proteins. (10)
• Hypoglycemic: Study suggests that Clitorea ternatea leaf and flower extracts exhibit antihyperglycemic effect in rats with alloxan-induced diabetes. (11)
• Antihyperglycemic / Antihyperlipidemic:Study suggests the C ternatea leaves and flower extracts showed antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic effects and may alleviate liver and renal damage associated with alloxan-induced diabetes in rats. (12)
• Antihistaminic Activity: Clonidine, an a-2 adrenoreceptor agonist induces dose-dependent catalepsy in mice and releases histamine from mast cells responsible for asthmatic conditions. Study results suggest antihistaminic activity of C. ternatea ethanol extract of root as shown by significant inhibition of clonidine-induced catalepsy in mice. (14)
• Wound Healing: Study showed seed and root extracts significantly improved wound healing in excision, incision and dead-space models, both orally by gavage and as ointment. The activity in animal models was attributed to flavonol glycoside and phenolic compounds through alterations in the inflammatory and immune components of wound healing. (15)
• Cytotoxicity: Study evaluating the the petroleum ether and ethanolic extracts of CT in short term in vitro cytotoxicity using Dalton's Lymphoma ascites cells showed both the extract poses significant cell cytotoxic activity. Phytochemical screening of PEE yielded steroids, triterpenoids, tannins, and saponins, while the EE yielded flavanoids. (16)
• Antiasthmatic: Study of ethanol extract of C. ternatea roots showed antiasthmatic activity which may be due to the presence of flavonoids or saponins.
• Antidiabetic Effect: Chronic administration of plant extracts for 14 days reduced the blood glucose levels of the diabetes-induced animals compared to the diabetic control group. The antidiabetic effect was comparable to the standard antidiabetic drug Glibenclamide. (18)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic / Flowers: Study of a petroleum ether flower extract of C. ternatea exhibited significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. On acute toxicity study, it was safe even at doses of 2000 mg/KBW. Phytochemical screening yielded taraxerol, a pentacyclic triterpenoid, which may be responsible for the pharmacologic activity. (22)
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antioxidant effects of leaf extracts Clitorea ternatea and Alternanthra sessilis in treated yeast cells DNA. The leaf extracts effectively decreased the extent of DNA damage. DPPH scavenging activity was highly elicited by the methanol extracts of Clitorea ternatea. (23)
• Juvenile Diabetes / Hippocampal Area Ca 3 Effect: Encepalopathy is a major complication in juvenile diabetes mellitus that can cripple physiomorphological growth and development in childhood. Study of an alcoholic root extract of C. ternatea showed significant gross impact in preventing possible complications to brain hippocampal area CA3 and pancreatic tissue in juvenile diabetic rat models. (24)
• Hypoglycemic Effects / Leaves: Study of a methanol extract of leaves showed significant reduction of blood glucose in alloxan-induced diabetic rats twelve hours after administration. (25)
• Nootropic Effects / Leaves: A methanolic extract of leaves showed promising nootropic effect in scopolamine induced amnesia in rats. (26)
• Antibacterial / Leaves: Various extracts of leaves were tested against Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus vulgaris and Salmonella typhi. A methanol extract showed the most potent inhibitory effect. (27)
• Antiasthmatic / Roots: Study evaluated the bronchodilator activity of an alcoholic extract of roots on histamine-induced bronchospasm in wistar rats. Results showed a bronchospasmolytic activity, with 47.45% protection against histamine-induced bronchoconstriction. (28)