Clitoria virginiana L.; Bradburya virginiana (L.) Kuntze; Glycine
Virginian centro (Australia), wild blue vine, bluebell and
wild pea (Barbados).
A climbing, herbaceous, perennial vine. Stems slender, 29 to
160 cm long, trailing and usually vigorously twining. Leaves alternate,
pinnately trifoliate, 3 to 10 cm long. Stipules lanceolate or ovate, 1
to 4 mm long, setaceous and often deciduous. Petiole 2 to 5 cm long. Leaflets
quite variable, linear to ovate to oblong or lanceolate-oblong, acute or
acuminate at the apex, rounded at the base, usually 2 to 6 and sometimes
1 to 8 cm long, 1 to 2.5 cm wide, glabrous or nearly so.
Inflorescence a short raceme of one to four flowers on axillary peduncles,
usually shorter than the foliage. Calyx deeply five-lobed, the acute lobes
longer than the tube. Corolla purplish or lavender-blue to nearly white.
Standard 2.5 cm long and 3 cm wide. Pods linear, 8 to 12 cm long, 3 to
4 cm wide; valves coriaceous, tordate, ribbed near the margin; beak up
to 1 cm long. Four to ten seeds, dark brown or black, 2 mm long, with a
small hilum (Gooding, Loveless and Proctor, 1965; Correll and Johnston,
1970; Pulle, 1976). Variable in leaflet size and shape and corolla colour.
Often confused with C. pubescens but less robust.
One of the most widely naturally distributed species of Centrosema,
C. virginianum occurs more or less continuously from Uruguay and northern
Argentina to the eastern United States and Bermuda in tropical and subtropical
areas. It is found throughout the West Indies and has become naturalized
in tropical West Africa.
Most widely collected from subhumid (500 to 1 000 mm rainfall)
and subtropical areas. Occasionally collected from semi-arid, tropical
areas in Brazil, but rarely found in the wet tropics.
C. virginianum is genetically very variable, especially in
agronomic features such as vigour, flowering behaviour, frost resistance
and drought resistance. It may be useful in subtropical pastures, though
to date no natural accessions suitable for use in commercial pastures have
been identified in Australia. Overall, it is more drought resistant than
C. pubescens but less tolerant of waterlogging.
In Australia, it has been grown in both moderately acid sandy soils
(pH 5.3 to 5.5) and alkaline clays (pH 6.5 increasing to 9 at depth). Inoculation
with commercial centro rhizobium has always ensured nodulation.
In vitro digestibility of the leaves has been assessed at 54 to 59
percent, similar to that of siratro. Digestibility of the stem is somewhat
lower (Clements et al., 1983) .
Clements (1983); Clements et al. (1983).
Occurs naturally from 35°S to 40°N latitude.