Beautiful wings of Christia vespertilionis

Christia vespertilionis (Mariposa, Red Butterfly Wing)

Christia vespertilionis (Red Butterfly Wing) in our garden, April 30 2008Our potted Christia vespertilionis (Red Butterfly Wing), shot Oct 5 2011Another fabulous plant to add to one’s garden.

Our first Christia vespertilionis seedling arrived in our garden in December 2004 and its descendants are still scattering their seeds all over our garden till today, like the pretty Torenia fournieri!

How wonderful!…and for only a couple of Malaysian Ringgit, mind you! :D Its fabulous foliage color and formation fascinates and captivates us so! Such delicateness and elegance as the plant dance in the gentle breeze! Lovely! :)

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Beautiful foliage of our potted Christia vespertilionis, shot Oct 12 2011Christia vespertilionis (synonym: Hedysarum vespertilionis, Lourea vespertilionis)
  • Common Name: Mariposa, Red Butterfly Wing, Island Pea, Aircraft/Bat Grass
  • Family name: Fabaceae/Leguminosae
  • Plant type: An ornamental herbaceous shrub, originating from Southeast Asia and Brazil
  • Light: Prefers sunlight for best foliage colour though can tolerate semi-shade to full-shade.
  • Moisture: Needs regular water for optimum growth
  • Soil: Grows best in well-drained loamy soil.
  • Propagation: Seedheads, seeds and seedlings of Christia vespertilionis in our garden from Nov 2011-March 2012Can be propagated from herbaceous stem cuttings or germination of seeds which may take 4-8 weeks to sprout (remove dried seedheads from plant, break open and scatter the tiny seeds on moist potting mix). Or allow the plant to self-sow – we weren’t surprised at all by the many seedlings found sprouting around the parent plant or elsewhere in surrounding pots.
  • Features: Christia vespertilionis and other plants in our garden A deciduous annual or perennial shrub reaching a height of about 60-120cm and width of 50cm. Though seemingly fragile as a spindly plant and needs staking when it becomes too tall, it is robust and sways with the wind unscathed! Christia vespertilionis is grown for its beautiful variegated foliage.
    Leaves held on thin wiry petioles are in rare burgundy red tones and prominently veined in medium shades of pink.
    Sizes vary from 5-9cm at its broadest.
    Our potted Christia vespertilionis (Mariposa, Red Butterfly Wings, Island Pea, Aircraft/Bat Grass), Oct 11 2011They are uniquely patterned like beautiful wings of a butterfly or wingspan of an aircraft or even resembling a swallow with spread wings. No wonder, this lovely plant is commonly named Butterfly Wing, Aircraft Grass or Bat Grass. Leaves hang downward (droop) during the night. Inconspicuous and small white or off-white flowers and seeds appear on slender raceme of 5-15cm lengths at terminal growth.
  • Christia vespertilionis, self-seeded and happily sharing pot space with a Croton that was propagated from stem cutting. Captured in September 24, 2007Usage: Red Butterfly Wing plant is most ideal in garden beds and borders to add variety, color and height.
    Great too for garden landscaping.
    And excellent for container gardening and as an indoor plant for patios, decks or porches, though best located where it can receive at least some indirect light.
  • Care: A low maintenance shrub that requires minimal attention. Light pruning if necessary to keep it low. Though hardly bothered by pests, do check occasionally for white flies to prevent infestation.
  • For temperate zones: View this site to know more, especially with regard to cold hardiness!

There are many Christia vespertilionis cultivars, though the only other that I’ve seen besides the kind we grow is with green leaves and marked with deep maroon veins. Quite a pretty one too, I’d say! View more Christia vespertilionis images that include other coloured varieties at!

Last edited: May 1 2012

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17 Responses to “Beautiful wings of Christia vespertilionis”

  1. Saw Says:


    just wonder if you notice that the leaves will fold down at night ? that was what caught my attention and wanted to plant it in my garden.

    sadly, it is hard to find more info about the plant until i saw your site.


  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Saw!
    No, I had not realized the leaves hang down during the night. Just rushed out into our garden to see their drooping form for the first time! ;)
    Thanks for the info.

  3. Harish Says:

    Every body bwould like to keep this…..

  4. j├╝rgen Says:


    i’m interested in seeds of the beautiful christia, but i can’t find them anywhere. can you send me seeds to austria?


  5. Jacqueline Says:

    Sorry to disappoint, jurgen….we’re not a garden nursery, just home-gardeners!

  6. Deborah Ellis Says:

    I had this plant. It came fell under the attack of an evil cat and it never came back. I cried. The cat is now on a farm. I am searching for this plant. This plant moved to my fan in my bedroom. Like leaves in flight. I loved it so much. It was fine without light although I did mist it twice a day to keep it moist and talked to it everytday. If i could even try to start some more of seeds i would be so indebted to you. PLEASE help me,,,,,,i miss it so much.

  7. Autumn Belle Says:

    Hi, Jacqueline. I have linked to you in my post about this plant. My link is here:

    Great joy here!

  8. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks a lot, A. Belle! Will visit you shortly.

  9. Deborah Ellis Says:

    I an still looking for this plant. I loved it so much. Could I please buy some seeds or an offspring from anyone having it? Thank you

  10. Norhanim Says:

    hi, I’m interested to have this plant but the one with green colour you have suggestion where can I find them?

  11. Jacqueline Says:

    No idea, Norhanim! Sorry to disappoint.

  12. Bangihijau Says:

    Nice blossoms flower you have.. How can I get the seeds.. Highly appreciated.. Pls update me asap.. Thanks..

  13. gadafi Says:

    Hi Jacqueline…

    I was wondering where can u get this plant in Malaysia?

    Thanks and regards

  14. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi gadafi… you can buy this plant at some of the Sungai Buloh nurseries along Jalan Sungai Buloh in Selangor.

  15. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks Bangihijau. Sorry, not sure where you can get the seeds.

  16. khairul Says:

    Hi Jacqueline,

    I’m also looking for this..but in green color.

    Hope you can update to us where we can find this plant with green color leaves.

  17. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Khairul,
    So sorry… I’ve no idea at all where you can buy the green-coloured variety.

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