Spurred butterfly-pea
Centrosema virginianum
Fabaceae


Landscape Uses:

Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also wildflower and butterfly gardens.

Ecological Restoration Notes:

A relatively common element of pinelands and open, coastal uplands.
Availability:
Grown by enthusiasts.
Description:
Trailing or twining vine with delicate stems.
Height:
N/A; a vine with stems to 6 feet or more in length, but often shorter. Sometimes spreads and forms small open patches.
Growth Rate:
Moderate.
Range:
Central and southern United States west to Texas and south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies, southern Mexico, Central America and South America. In the Monroe County Keys, apparently disjunct from Miami-Dade County to Bahia Honda and the lower Keys; also reported for Windley Key, where perhaps introduced.
Habitats:
Pinelands and coastal uplands.
Soils:
Moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with or without humusy top layer.
Nutritional Requirements:
Low to moderate; it can grow in nutrient poor soils or soils with some organic content.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.
Drought Tolerance:
High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
Light Requirements:
Full sun to light shade.
Flower Color:
Purplish lavender to nearly white, about 1" long.
Flower Characteristics:
Showy.
Flowering Season:
All year; peak summer-fall.
Fruit:
Flat pod (legume).
Wildlife and Ecology:
Larval host plant for long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus) and northern cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) butterflies.
Horticultural Notes:
Can be grown from seed. The pods will open and eject the seeds when completely ripe, so collect pods when mature and store in a paper bag until they open.
Comments:
Forms in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties have narrow leaflets; forms to the north and west have broad leaflets. Local sources of material should be used.


Roger L. Hammer
George D. Gann
in habitat, Miami-Dade County, Florida, 2013
Rosimar Rivera
George D. Gann
Shirley Denton
Michelle Hayden
In habitat, Eleuthera, Bahamas, 2013
Michelle Hayden
In habitat, Eleuthera, Bahamas, 2013