Clitoria L.
Sp.Pl. 2:753 (1753)

Name Status: Current
Browse to the list of specimens for Clitoria L.

Scientific Description
Leslie Watson, Thursday 8 September 2016

Family Papilionaceae. Phaseoleae.

Sometimes included in Leguminosae.

Habit and leaf form. Shrubs (or subshrubs), or lianas, or herbaceous climbers; evergreen, or deciduous; not resinous. The herbs perennial. Leaves cauline. Plants with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves; to 1 m high. Self supporting, or climbing (or sprawling); the climbers stem twiners, or scrambling. When twining, twining anticlockwise. Mesophytic. Leaves medium-sized; not fasciculate; alternate; spiral, or distichous; not decurrent on the stems; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery; not imbricate; petiolate. Petioles wingless. Leaves non-sheathing; not gland-dotted; compound; pulvinate; unifoliolate, or ternate, or pinnate. Leaves when trifoliolate, pinnately trifoliolate. Leaves imparipinnate. Leaflets 1, or 3, or 5; 1 cm long, or 7–10 cm long. Lateral leaflets when laterals present, opposite. Leaflets stipellate (the stipels persistent); pulvinate, or epulvinate; elliptic, or oblong, or ovate, or obovate; cuneate at the base, or rounded at the base; flat; without lateral lobes. Leaflet margins flat. Leaf blades dorsiventral; cross-venulate. Mature leaf blades adaxially glabrous, or pubescent; abaxially pubescent. Leaves with stipules. Stipules intrapetiolar; free of the petiole; free of one another; scaly, or leafy; persistent. Leaf blade margins entire; not prickly; flat. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present (the hairs small, hooked). Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the disk.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; not crowded at the stem bases; when solitary, axillary. Inflorescence few-flowered. Inflorescences simple, or compound; axillary; of axillary, few-flowered racemes which are sometimes paired, or the flowers axillary and solitary or paired. Flowers pedicellate, or subsessile; bracteate. Bracts persistent. Flowers (bi-) bracteolate. Bracteoles persistent. Flowers medium-sized; very irregular; zygomorphic; usually resupinate. The floral asymmetry involving the perianth and involving the androecium. Flowers papilionaceous (morphologically imbricate-descending, but generally resupinate); basically 5 merous; tetracyclic. Floral receptacle developing a gynophore. Free hypanthium present, or absent. Hypogynous disk present; intrastaminal. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; lobed; toothed. Calyx lobes markedly shorter than the tube to markedly longer than the tube. Calyx imbricate; exceeded by the corolla; slightly bilabiate (the two lobes of the morphologically posterior lip only shortly connate); non-fleshy; persistent; non-accrescent; with the median member anterior. Calyx lobes ovate. Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; appendiculate, or not appendiculate. Standard not appendaged. Corolla partially gamopetalous. 4 of the petals joined. The joined petals anterior (and lateral). The wings of the corolla adherent to the keel; not laterally spurred. Standard ‘normally’ developed; slightly emarginate; sparsely sericeous. Keel conspicuously exceeded by the wings (incurved); not long-acuminate/beaked; neither coiled nor spiralled; not bent and beaked. Corolla imbricate (descending, but the flower generally resupinate); hairy abaxially (‘sericeous’); hairy adaxially, or glabrous adaxially; plain, or with contrasting markings; white, or green, yellow, and blue; deciduous; non-accrescent. Petals clawed, or sessile. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 10. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal, or markedly unequal; coherent; more or less 2 - adelphous (with the posterior stamen free of the tube, or only shortly connate with it). The staminal tube free from the keel petals. Androecial members 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 10; all more or less similar in shape, or distinctly dissimilar in shape; diplostemonous; both opposite and alternating with the corolla members; filantherous. Anthers connivent; dimorphic (alternating), or all alike; dorsifixed, or basifixed, or dorsifixed and basifixed (then alternating); versatile, or non-versatile, or versatile and non-versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; latrorse, or introrse; tetrasporangiate. Gynoecium 1 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. Gynoecium monomerous (usually); of one carpel; superior. Carpel stylate; apically stigmatic. Style (in-) curved. Style bearded via an apical tuft, or bearded via an apical ring, or bearded down one side (? — ‘distally bearded’). Stigmatic tissue terminal. Carpel 2–100 ovuled (i.e. to ‘many’). Placentation marginal (along the ventral suture). Gynoecium median (the placenta posterior, on the ventral suture). Ovary subsessile to stipitate. Styles hairy. Ovules not differentiated; funicled; pendulous to ascending; biseriate; arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous, or campylotropous to amphitropous, or hemianatropous.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit aerial; 35–70 mm long; stipitate, or subsessile; non-fleshy; hairy, or not hairy; not spinose. The fruiting carpel dehiscent; a legume. Pods much elongated; not triangular; straight, or curved; beaked; not becoming inflated; somewhat compressed; irregularly constricted, or not constricted between the seeds; transversely septate between the seeds (with pithy septa); wingless; not internally hairy. Valves of the dehisced pod not twisted. Fruit 1 celled; elastically dehiscent. Dispersal unit the seed. Fruit 2–50 seeded. Seeds non-endospermic; not mucous; compressed; small to medium sized; arillate (‘caruncle pale, minute), or non-arillate. Cotyledons 2; accumbent. Embryo curved, or bent. Testa hard; non-operculate; smooth; homogeneous in colour. Micropyle zigzag, or not zigzag. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.

Special features. Calyx limb 5 lobed. Upper lip of calyx lobed; 2 lobed. Lower lip of calyx lobed; 3 lobed.

Geography, cytology, number of species. Native of Australia and adventive. 2n=(16)24. A genus of 30–40 species; 2 species in Western Australia; C. australis Benth., C. ternatea L.

Additional comments. Note discrepancies in Flora descriptions, especially of C. ternatea.

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, J. R.; Rye, B. L.; Koch, B. L.; Wilson, A. J. G.; Western Australian Herbarium (1992). Flora of the Kimberley region. Western Australian Herbarium. Como, W.A.