- Clitoria is a genus of mainly tropical and subtropical, insect-pollinated flowering pea vines.
Etymology: The genus Clitoria was named after the clitoris, as the flowers resemble the vulva. Many vernacular names of the flowers in different languages similarly refer to the female external genitalia. The clitoral reference of the genus name drew sharp criticism from 19th century botanists James Edward Smith, Amos Eaton, Michel Etienne Descourtilz, and Wright, but despite less explicit alternatives proposed, Clitoria as genus name survived. (11) The species epithet fairchildiana is named after David Grandison Fairchild (1869 - 1954), American botanist and agricultural explorer for USDA, responsible for introducing more than 200,000 types of exotic species and agricultural varieties to USA. (2)
Clitoria fairchildiana is a small to medium-sized tree with low branching and pendulous branches. Crown bushy and rounded. Significant nitrogen-fixing with high degree of root nodulation. Leaves trifoliate with rough texture, evergreen in Singapore but winter-deciduous in native Brazil. Flowers pale violet, pea-like, slightly fragrant, produced in pendant inflorescences. Fruits are long woody explosive pods, maturing from green to brown, with several seeds. (2)
Clitoria fairchildianais a deciduous, up to about 12 m tall erect tree, with trunk of 30-50 cm of diameter with wrinkly grayish bark and ample and dense canopy with horizontal or drooping branches; the roots, superficial, present a high number of nodules fixing the atmospheric nitrogen, thus rendering it available also for other plants. Leaves, on a 3-7 cm long petiole, are alternate, compound, trifoliate, with elliptic-lanceolate to oblong-elliptic leaflets with long pointed apex and entire margin, 8-20 cm long and 3-7 cm broad, coriaceous, glabrous and of glossy intense green color above, opaque pale green and pubescent below. Inflorescences racemose axillary or terminal drooping, 8-40 cm long, with numerous fragrant papilionaceous flowers, about 5 cm long and 3 cm broad, of lilac color with purple longitudinal lines on the standard. Fruit is a brown, woody and flattened legume, 12-30 cm long and 2-3 cm broad, dehiscent when ripe in explosive way, containing 5-10 lenticular black seeds, of 1-1.6 cm of diameter and 1-2 mm of thickness, that are thrown far away. (12)
- Ornamental cultivation.
- Native to Brazil, Columbia.
- Introduced ornamental plant in Southeast Asia.
- Study of seeds isolated a new rotenoid, 6-hydroxy-2,3,9-trimethoxy-- benzopyrano[3,4-b]benzopyran-12(6H)-one. (6)
- Study isolated a rotenoid glycoside, clitoriacetal 11-O-ß-d-glucopyranoside.
- Clitoriacetal, 6-desoxyclitoriacetal, stemonal and stemonone were isolated from the roots and 11-desoxyclitoriacetal from seeds.
(see study below) (10)
- Studies suggested antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive properties.
- Flowers are edible.
- Plant used for headaches, skin problems, anxiety.
- Roots use for treatment of inflammatory conditions..
- Roots and seeds used as diuretic, cathartic, emmenagogue, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antinocicpetive.
- Wood: Moderately heavy. Used for construction of frames, ceilings, interior trims and common use objects. (12)
Manure: Leaves used as green manure.
- Dye: Yields a natural dye. The blue anthocyanin pigment of flower petals sometimes used to dye Peranakan kueh (glutinous rice cakes).
- Agroforestry: Use in reforestation programs of degraded areas and for reconsolidation of soils. (12)
- Fodder: Potential as fodder plant.
• Anti-Inflammatory Rotenoids / Roots: Five structurally related rotenoids isolated from roots of C. fairchildiana were investigated for anti-inflammatory activity using capillary permeability assay. The protective effect was measured as vascular permeability produced by acetic acid in the peritoneal cavity. Results suggest that for maximum activity the maintenance of the B/C ring junction integrity is important. Study supports its traditional use for treatment of inflammatory conditions. (3)
• Antioxidant / Free Radical Scavenging Activity / Pod and Seed: Study evaluated the phenolic content and antioxidant capacities of pod and seed extracts of Clitoria fairchildiana using DPPH and ABTS assays. The methanol extracts of pod showed high concentration of phenolics and high antioxidant capacities compared to seed extracts. A positive correlation was seen between total phenol and tannin content vs antioxidant capacity. Results suggest potential as a natural food additive or use in pharmaceutical industries. (4)
• Antinociceptive / Anti-Inflammatory / Lectin-Like Substance / Seeds: Lectins are proteins with ability to bind specifically and reversibly to carbohydrates and glycoconjugates, without altering the glycosyl ligand structure. Study purified and characterized lectins in seeds of C. fairchildiana, and yielded a lectin (CFAL) in the glutelin acid protein fraction, which agglutinated native rabbit erythrocytes. The lectin showed no significant cytotoxicity to human RBCs. The CFAL exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in induced paw-edema in a carrageenan model, with 64% diminution of edema. Increasing doses of lectin showed antinociceptive effect with up to 72% reduction in contortions using abdominal writhing test. (5)
• Rotenoid / Anti-Inflammatory / Seeds: Study of seeds of Clitoria fairchildiana isolated a new rotenoid, 6-hydroxy-2,3,9-trimethoxy-- benzopyrano[3,4-b]benzopyran-12(6H)-one. Anti-inflammatory activity was evaluated using a capillary permeability assay. (6)
• Insecticidal / Seeds: Study reports on the characterization and invitro and invivo assays for a proteinase inhibitor purified from C. fairchildiana seeds (CFPI). Kinetic studies showed a competitive-type inhibitory activity against bovine trypsin and chymotrypsin. CFPI exhibited significant inhibitory activity against larval midgut enzymes from Anagasta kuehniella (76%), Diatraea saccharalis (59%), and Heliothis virescens (49%). (7)
• Larvicidal / Trypsin Inhibitor / Aedes aegypti Larvae / Seed Cotyledons: Aedes aegypti is the principal mosquito vector of yellow fever, dengue fever, and chikungunya fever virus-transmitted diseases. Study reports on the identification of a trypsin inhibitor isolated from cotyledons of C. fairchildiana seeds, which was able to reduce by 87.93% the activity of digestive enzymes of fourth instar A. aegypti larva. The 13,000 Da isolated inhibitory was active solely against trypsin-like enzymes. The strong and specific action of the isolated inhibitor against trypsin digestive enzymes of this insect vector suggests the protein has potential for an alternative biocontrol method. (8)
• Antifungal Rotenoids / Seeds: Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of rotenoids from C. fairchildiana. Clitoriacetal, 6-desoxyclitoriacetal, stemonal and stemonone were isolated from the roots and 11-desoxyclitoriacetal from seeds. Antimicrobial activity was confirmed using different culture media and confirmed the importance of the junction of the ring B/C and pattern of hydroxylation of these compounds in antifungal activities. (10)
- Ornamental cultivation.
- Seeds in the cybermarket.