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butterfly pea

Q: What is this pretty vine growing behind my house?

Q:  I have this pretty vine in a wooded area behind my house.  The flowers are purple and they are about an inch long.  They look similar to a large pea flower.  Do you have any idea what they might be?

A:  The flowers you described are probably one of the Butterfly pea vines in the genus Centrosema or Clitoria. This deciduous vine produces flowers from late spring through the summer. Butterfly pea grows in full sun to partial shade which attracts wildlife such as birds and butterflies. Just today, as I was identifying trees in one of our local parks, I saw a Zebra longwing drawing nectar from its flower. Butterfly pea prefers acid, sandy soils commonly found in this area. You can propagate it easily by collecting seeds. If you decide to plant it in your yard, it might be best to keep it away from sprinkler heads. Consider giving the Butterfly pea plenty of room to grow or a trellis to climb. This plant can be found as far west as Illinois, north to New Jersey and south to the Virgin Islands.