Pretty flower of Centrosema pubescens

Last year when I visited my homeland in Central Java/Indonesia, I found some interesting plants that were growing and trailing wildly in our family property. One was the interesting Passiflora foetida that had beautiful flowers and unusual fruits, and the other one was also a figorous climber with the most prettiest flowers. The flowers are photogenic…. always look beautifully striking in photographs. I had a feeling this plant was some sort of legume. For  more than a year I tried to identify it, and only yesterday I knew what it was.

The trailing tropical plant with very pretty lilac flowers is Centrosema pubescens. It is also commonly known as Centro Pea or Butterfly Pea. Apparently this South American plant was brought to Java in the 19th century. Though it was not clear why they introduced the plant at that time, today the locals use the plant as ground cover that has great benefits to the soil to improve soil fertility. Centrosema is known to improve depleted level of nitrogen in soil. The plant and the seeds can also be used as animal feed, a beneficial income support for farmers during regeneration period.

If used as ground cover crop, Centrosema can also improve soil structure by reducing erosion, lesser loss of organic matter and nutrient of soil. At the same time, it reduces weed infestation.

To read about Passiflora foetida: