Plants of the UNF Campus

Centrosema virginianum - Spurred butterfly pea
Family Fabaceae


About thirty-five species of Centrosema are native to North America and South America. Three species are native to Florida. This plant, the spurred butterfly pea, is native to the southeastern United States, including most of Florida, and through most of South America to Uraguay. It is a small, perennial vine that can grow to about six feet tall. Showy lavender flowers are about 1.5 inches inch wide. It is similar to a bean flower except that the larger “banner” petal is on the lower side of the flower. In this position, it acts as a landing platform for bees as well as a bright signal for passing pollinators. Leaves are divided into three leaflets. The vine climbs by twining around its support. It is considered a high quality forage for livestock and has been used as a groundcover under coconut and rubber tree plantations.


Plants can be seen in natural areas especially among the pines and turkey oaks around parking lot 17 T.


A small vine that climbs to about six feet.

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun to part shade

Water: very adaptable, drought tolerant in part shade,

Soil: no other special requirements

In nature, spurred butterfly pea is found in a wide variety of habits. It is rare in the nursery trade but is attractive and adaptable enough to be cultivated. As a native plant, this small vine grows easily in north Florida gardens.