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Spurred butterfly-pea
Centrosema virginianum
Fabaceae


General 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.
Dimensions:
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.


 


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