Blue / Butterfly Pea Flower

Annie’s extended family on her father’s side is from George Town, Penang, and every time we’ve gone to visit, we stayed with family. Usually, that meant staying with Annie’s godparents, her uncle and aunt. They are such hospitable and kind folks, and we always loved spending time with them.

Staying at their place is pretty cool because it’s in a relatively quiet neighborhood, but with quick access to some main roads if we want to go somewhere. We could be sitting at home, chatting (usually about where we want to go eat) and the next minute be on our way out for some assam laksa, char kway teow, or nasi kandar.

The neighborhood itself is very walkable. Many times I just take my camera and go wandering off in one direction, looking for neat stuff to snap. It was on one of these jaunts that I came upon a fence that was completely covered in this dense vine, bearing these incredibly blue flowers:

Blue Pea / Butterfly Pea Flower

Butterfly Blue Pea Flower


These were what is known in Malay as “Bunga Telang”, the Butterfly Pea or Blue Pea. It’s scientific name is Clitoria ternatea, because the shape of the flower looks like that part of the female genitals. The plant is native to tropical Asia but can be grown in many climates, even here in the United States, according to Dave’s Garden.

The vines totally engulfed the fence, and the beautiful blue pea flowers were sprinkled throughout the mass. I got really excited and went back to fetch Annie and the kids to enlist their aid in picking some of these flowers. The house inside the fence was undergoing a complete renovation, so I was sure no one would mind if we collected some flowers.

Butterfly Pea / Blue Pea Growing on the Fence

Butterfly Blue Pea Flower growing on fence

The flowers were easy to pluck off. Just pinch at the base and give a little tug.

Picking Blue Butterfly Pea Flowers

Picking Butterfly Blue Pea flower

We collected a bag full of pea flowers to take home to Kuching.

Bag Full of Blue / Butterfly Pea Flowers

Bag full of Butterfly Blue Pea flower

What to Do?

What was I going to do with them? Well, Malaysians and other Southeast Asians use this flower to make a blue-colored tea extract, and then use that extract to color food, usually rice. I was hoping to do this with the flowers I collected.

Unfortunately, the flowers did not survive the trip back from Penang to Kuching. Sadly, they had gone bad and I could not use them.

Here are some ways that other bloggers use Blue / Butterfly Pea Flowers:

Butterfly Pea Flower, Blue and Purple Food Color Extract by Pranee’s Thai Kitchen
Pulut Inti Nyonya Kuih by Rasa Malaysia
Pulut Tai Tai by My Kitchen Snippets
Kuih Seri Muka by A Daily Obsession
Blue Rice (Nasi Kerabu) by Jewel Pie

How would you use bunga telang? Leave us a comment below!

Aloha, Nate

I am entering this post in the Weekend Herb Blogging #400 roundup, organized by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything and hosted this week by Terry from Crumpets & Co.

42 thoughts on “Blue / Butterfly Pea Flower”

  1. I wonder if i can find these flowers here in Italy near where i live…. Thanks for thia entry for the WHB… Loved the ideas you shared! Intriguing! 🙂

        1. Hey I ordered it last year thru and planted this spring – it grow very fast and crazy in the summer with our Houston’s heat. But be sure it is near a fence cos it spread very quickly and will destroy any plants near it.

          1. Christine, I am ordering these seeds from Onalee, but I have never planted anything before. How deep a hole do I dig for these? Do I put one seed in each hole? How far apart along a fence line should each hole be? Should I put the seeds inside a mesh so the squirrels cannot dig them up and eat them? And, do you water right after planting? Ignorant, aren’t I? 😉

  2. Hi. I was wondering if I could purchase the flowers from you? How much are you selling them for and in what quantities?

    1. Faizah,

      thanks for your comment / question.

      We do not sell the flowers. There are links in the comments to places where you can purchase the seeds online.

  3. I have some sun dried blue pea flower, hand pick daily from my garden. Please email me if you would like to buy. I am from Penang.

    1. can u share your wechat id or email address? do you sell dry clitoria ternatea in penang?reply me via email address thx alot

  4. Hi, I’m interested to buy blue pea flower seeds to plant.

    But I live in an apartment with no fencing near my unit…..and some potted plants on the balcony of the lift landing.

    Is that possible?…

  5. Hi
    I am selling organic sun dried blue pea flowers.
    Pls check out my fb page Have A Cuppa Blue Tea.
    For orders, pls whats app or sms 92379517.


  6. Hi, all blue pea fans,
    I sell the plant, flowers and seeds through MyLittleGardenShop.
    Many happy customers since 2012. Please email me.

  7. Hi, i would like to purchase blue pea flower seeds to grow, please comtact me to let me know how i could go about purchasing from you. Thank you!

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