Butterfly Pea Flowers
Recently there has been a fad taking the culinary world by storm. If you have been paying attention you have seen all sort of lavender and different shades of blue dishes coming about. Contrary to popular belief, these dishes are not colored by food coloring. Instead, there is a flower that is taking the world by storm; this flower is the butterfly pea. Everyone is obsessed with the color-changing properties, in my opinion, that is the least important thing it does.
The butterfly pea is a native of Southeast Asia and has been a part of the cultures of Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and Malaysia. I don’t know what is about the area or the soil, but like many of the other plants native to this area they are full of medicinal properties, the butterfly pea does not disappoint. This super plant is capable of some fantastic things. The entire plant is edible, leaves, shoots and flowers. The medicinal properties, or the magic, lies within the flowers.
The flowers contain a plethora of antioxidant:
· Proanthocyanidin- Increases blood flow to the eyes which help prevent and combat eye diseases and problems
· Skin rejuvenating antioxidants which aid elastin and collagen synthesis
· Bioflavonoids- reduce greying of hair
· Flavonoids which help combat free radicals. Contain anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening benefits.
Also, the flowers contain other medicinal properties:
· Enhance cognitive skills and boost brain function
· Lowers blood presses
· Helps relieve pain and swelling
· Stress and anxiety reducer
· Expectorant used to help treat common cols and reduce issues associated with respiratory organs
· Calms stomach with anti-nausea properties
· Antidiabetic by inhibiting glucose intake
These flowers contain cyclotides. Cyclotides have been said to possess anti-HIV, anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties.
Since this pea is a native of the Indian subcontinent, it is safe to say it likes hot humid temperatures. Butterfly pea cannot withstand cold temperatures so do not plant until springtime. I recommend direct sowing only. I have not had much success with transplants. Since it is a pea, it is in the Fabaceae or Legume family. The seeds look similar to sugar snap or snow pea seeds. To improve germination results, before planting soak the seeds overnight or scar them; the Scarification process is when you rub the outside seed coating of hard seeds with something abrasive, like sandpaper. This creates nicks and cuts in the exterior which helps the water penetrate the seed and hasten the germination process.
After soaking, plant in the garden 1” deep. Butterfly peas grow in almost any soil type, another reason I think everyone should grow it. They are slow to germinate and can take anywhere from 2- 3 weeks before popping through the soil. Once growing, it is a fast climber that will quickly cover lattice or trellises. It is essential to have Vertical support in place when you plant.
This tender perennial with produce flowers from late spring throughout the summer. Only hardy in zones 10 and 11. These peas prefer full sun and once established they are drought tolerant. Yes it is a vine, but pinching or topping regularly can help promote bushiness. Harvest the flowers and either dry them or use them fresh.
Now, if this isn’t enough to make you want to research or even grow your own, I don’t know what to tell you. You cannot find this extensive list of health benefits from one source from any medicine made in a lab. This is why nature and gardening are amazing.