If you stare long enough and let your mind stray, you might appreciate how the common name Pukingan derived from the flower's similarity to the female external genitalia, particularly the clitoris. Another species, Clitorea ternatea, share the same common name, pukingan, from puki, which is tagalog for vagina.
The tropical forage species, known since the last century as Centrosema pubescens, was renamed Centrosema molle Mart. ex Benth.
Butterfly pea is a twining herbacious vine with trifoliate leaves. Leaflets are dark green, elliptic or ovate-elliptic, up to 9 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide, pubescent on both surfaces and with an obtuse tip. Flowers are showy, bright or pale lilac, with dark violet stripes or blotches. Petal is broadly orbicular and pale lilac with dark blotches. Pods are linear with prominent margins, up to 9 centimeters long and containing up to 20 seeds.
- Widespread and naturalized in the Philippines.
- A common weed in cultivated fields.
- Occasionally planted as an ornamental.
Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, tannins, terpenes.
No recorded folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
In Laos, seed is crushed on applied to skin for scorpion and snake bites.
• Immunologically Active Polysaccharides / RES-Potentiating: Study isolated two polysaccharides from the powdered seeds of Centrosema pubescens. The polysaccharides showed reticuloendothelial system-potentiating activity.
• Pubescidin: Study isolated a new isoflavone glycoside, irisolidone 7-O-B-D-apiofuranosyl-(1-2)B-D-glucopyranoside from the seeds of CP along with sitosterol, stigmasterol and a sitosterol-glucopyranoside.
• Antimicrobial / Wound Healing: An ethanolic extract of this plant showed significant antibacterial and antimicrobial effect against most pathogenic organisms tested. A crude ointment of the plant showed a certain degree of wound healing evident from wound contraction and increased tensile strength.
• Anti-Proliferative / Apoptosis: Study assessed the anti-proliferative activity of C. pubescens. A dichlormethane extract inhibited the proliferation of HL-60 (promyelocytic acute leukemia) cells. Results showed effective arrest of the cell cycle and apoptosis. The extract exhibited negligible toxicity even at the highest dose tested.