CLIMBING BUTTERFLY PEA Centrosema virginianum

Isaiah 40: 8 is especially appropriate for today’s wildflower. “The grass withers, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God stands forever.” The blossom of this wildflower lasts but one day. On the other hand, the long tough root provides the nurture that causes new vines to produce beautiful flowers year after year. Lives that are rooted in the Word likewise endure and bless those about them.

Several years ago I was visiting the home of two of my advanced art students who are sisters. As we walked around their lake we came upon a large patch of today’s wildflower.

CLIMBING BUTTERFLY PEA Centrosema virginianum

The climbing butterfly pea is a perennial vine that grows from a long tough root. It will be around for many years because it is especially tolerant to drought. Generally, the vine does not become a pest like wisteria, honeysuckle or kudzu, though it has a substantial root system.

The blooms may appear as early as March, but it is more common in midsummer. The 1 1/2 inch bloom is a lavendar-pink with the upper structure (wing and keel petals) a lighter hue. The variety that we observed had a white streak down the middle, as pictured.

The climbing butterfly pea is a native of the South. It likes to inhabit dry banks and thin woods. However, with the extended dry weather we had experienced in the past years, the butterfly peas at my friends’ home seem to have sought moisture. They are located atop the dam about 2 feet from the water.

The configuration of the leaves is noteworthy. First, they are triplets, that is, they appear along the stem as a set of three. Second, the two that are closest to the stem are direct opposites with the third leaf of the triplet perpendicular to the opposites. Finally, this perpendicular leaf is slightly larger.

Now you see it — now you don’t. The individual flower lasts only one day but often there are many buds along the vine in various stages of development. Each day several new blooms occur in different locations.

Though Isaiah 40: 8 is especially appropriate for this wildflower, it applies to us amid this pandemic. “The grass withers, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God stands forever.” Believers whose lives are rooted in God bless those around them by following the protocol recommended by the medical community: masks, social distance and sanitizing hands and frequently handled objects. Happy Valentine Day.

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Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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