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This genus is accepted, and its native range is America, Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India to S. China and Indo-China, Jawa, N. Australia.


Leguminosae, B. Mackinder, R. Pasquet, R. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora Zambesiaca 3:5. 2001

Trailing, climbing or erect herbs, shrubs or small trees.
Leaves pinnately 3–9-foliolate, rarely 1-foliolate; stipels present or absent.
Inflorescences few-flowered in racemes, or flowers axillary, solitary or paired; upper pair of bracts connate; bracteoles large.
Calyx 5-lobed, upper pair of lobes joined only at the base.
Corolla large, often resupinate; standard much exceeding the other petals, often pubescent outside.
Vexillary filament free or joined to the others at the base.
Ovary stipitate, 2–many-ovuled; style elongate, curved, bearded and slightly widened towards the terminal stigma.
Pod linear-oblong, compressed or convex, dehiscent, with or without longitudinal ribs.
Seeds variously coloured, oblong-ellipsoid, compressed, with a central to excentric hilum and a persistent white rim aril and funicular remnant.


M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008]

Climbing or erect herbs or shrubs
Leaves pinnately (1–)3–9-foliolate
Inflorescences few-flowered racemes, or flowers axillary, solitary or paired; bracteoles large
Calyx 5-lobed
Standard large, much exceeding the other petals
Style bearded inside at the slightly dilated apex
Pod linear-oblong, compressed.
Some 60-70 species in the tropics and subtropics of both hemispheres.


Leguminosae, J. B. Gillett, R. M. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1971

Climbing or erect herbs or shrubs, rarely trees
Leaves pinnately 3–9-foliolate, more rarely 1-foliolate; stipules and stipels present
Inflorescences few-flowered, racemose, or flowers axillary, solitary or paired, sometimes on the old wood; upper pairs of bracts connate; bracteoles large
Calyx 5-lobed, upper pair of lobes joined only at the base
Corolla large, white, red or blue; standard large, much exceeding the other petals, rounded, erect, emarginate, without appendages
Vexillary stamen free or ± joined to the bundle; anthers almost uniform or 5 dorsifixed alternating with 5 subbasifixed
Ovary stipitate, 2-many-ovuled
Style elongated, incurved, bearded inside at the slightly dilated apex; stigma terminal
Cleistogamous flowers occur in some species
Pod linear-oblong, compressed, sometimes longitudinally ribbed, filled with soft tissue but not septate
Seeds subglobose or ellipsoid, compressed; hilum small, central or subcentral; aril not developed.


Legumes of the World. Edited by G. Lewis, B. Schrire, B. MacKinder & M. Lock. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (2005)

Shrubs, lianas, herbs and trees
Seasonally dry to wet tropical lowland and montane forest, woodland or scrubland and wooded grassland
S America, C America, Caribbean and Mexico (c. 48 spp., centred in northern S America), Africa (4 spp.), Madagascar (2 spp.), Indian subcontinent (1 sp.), Indo-China, China, Malesia (6 spp.), Australia (1 sp.)
Subtribe Clitoriinae, based on the bulk of molecular evidence to date, holds a basally branching position between the millettioid and phaseoloid clades

Previous accounts of the Phaseoleae by Baudet (1978) and Lackey (1981) recognised 90 and 84 genera and c. 1540 and 1480 species respectively in the tribe. In an equivalent, i.e. traditionally held view of Phaseoleae, 89 genera and (1554)–1567–(1580) species are treated here (Table 9; Fig. 47). Changes between Baudet (1978) and this treatment are that eleven genera are now in synonymy or have subsequently been placed in Millettieae, two genera have been transferred from Desmodieae and eight new genera have been added. Vigna has traditionally been thought to comprise some 150–200 species, but Vigna sens. strict. may contain fewer than 100.

Recent molecular analyses of the tribe, however, have emphasised both the polyphyletic and paraphyletic nature of Phaseoleae as traditionally circumscribed (Bruneau & Doyle, 1990; Doyle & Doyle, 1993; Delgado Salinas et al., 1993; Bruneau et al., 1995; Doyle et al., 1997, 2000; Kajita et al., 2001; Goel et al., 2001; Lee & Hymowitz, 2001). This has required a radical realignment of elements of the phaseoloids (Table 9; Fig. 47), with at least two major clades being evident: Phaseoleae subtribes Diocleinae and Ophrestiinae which together with tribe Abreae are allied to the core-Millettieae (Fig. 45), and the remaining groups comprising a Phaseoleae sens. lat. clade. The rbcL phylogeny of Kajita et al. (2001) and the ITS analysis of Hu et al. (2002) are equivocal as to which clade subtribe Clitoriinae belongs. Phaseoleae sens. lat. also includes two traditionally independent tribes, the Desmodieae and Psoraleeae. Delimiting a recircumscribed Phaseoleae sens. strict is thus very problematic. A solution may be to recognise a broad tribe Phaseoleae, comprising the subtribes Kennediinae, Cajaninae, Phaseolinae and Glycininae, assorted basally branching genera, and tribes Desmodieae and Psoraleeae (both treated at subtribal level).


Used as ornamentals, forage, green manure, cover crops and medicine

Native to:

Alabama, Angola, Argentina Northeast, Arizona, Arkansas, Assam, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, China South-Central, China Southeast, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Delaware, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Florida, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Guyana, Hainan, Honduras, Illinois, India, Indiana, Iowa, Jawa, Kansas, Kentucky, Kenya, Laos, Leeward Is., Louisiana, Madagascar, Maine, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mississippi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Carolina, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Oklahoma, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Réunion, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Dakota, Sudan, Suriname, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tennessee, Texas, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad-Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virginia, West Himalaya, West Virginia, Western Australia, Windward Is., Wisconsin, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

Aldabra, Andaman Is., Aruba, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Canary Is., Cayman Is., Chad, Christmas I., Comoros, Cook Is., Egypt, Fiji, Galápagos, Gilbert Is., Haiti, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Laccadive Is., Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Malaya, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Queensland, Seychelles, Society Is., Solomon Is., Southwest Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Tonga, Venezuelan Antilles

Clitoria L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Dec 4, 1978 Philcox, D. [4537], Brazil K000920665
Dec 4, 1978 Philcox, D. [3565], Brazil K000920667
Dec 4, 1972 Philcox, D. [49], Brazil K000920666
Jan 1, 1969 Prance, G.T. [6854], Brazil K000920657
Hinton, G.B. [4447], Mexico K000118536
Hinton, G.B. [1528], Mexico K000118537
Hinton, G.B. [1528], Mexico K000118538
Philcox, D. [3606], Brazil K000920668
Coradin, L. [3754], Brazil K000920659
Bamps, P. [5050], Brazil K000920656
Fróes, R.L. [1822], Brazil K000920669
Prance, G.T. [2736], Brazil K000920654
Prance, G.T. [2736], Brazil K000920655
Prance, G.T. [5068], Brazil K000920663
Anderson, A.B. [1192], Brazil K000920658
Glaziou, A. [12548], Brazil K000920662
Santos, M.L.O. [16], Brazil K000920660
Queiroz, J.C.C. [12], Brazil K000920661
Nascimento, O.C. [436], Brazil K000920664

First published in Sp. Pl.: 753 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • —F.T.A. 2: 176.

Flora Zambesiaca

  • Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 334 (1754).
  • Sp. Pl.: 753 (1753)

Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 1, (1993) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Benth. in J.L.S. 2: 33 (1858)
  • L., Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 334 (1754)
  • Sp. PL: 753 (1753)

Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Legumes of the World Online