|ABRUS PRECATORIUS L. - ROSARY PEA.|
Coral bean, crab's eye, deadly crab's eye, Gunja, Indian liquorice, jequerite, jequirity bean, Ma Liao Tou, paternoster bean, prayerbead, precatory bean, rosary pea, ruti, Tento Muido, weesboontje, wild liquorice.
Fabaceae / Leguminosae.
Rosary pea is a small climbing tropical vine with alternately compound leaves, indigenous to Indonesia but also growing abundantly in Surinam.
The flowers are small, pale, and violet to pink and arranged in clusters.
The fruit (a pod) is flat and truncate - shaped (1½ - 2" long).
This seedpod curls back when it opens to reveal the seeds.
The small, hard, brilliant red seeds with a black spot (a white variety is also known), are very toxic due to the phytochemical abrin (consisting of 5 glyco-proteins); a single seed, if broken, can cause blindness or even death when ingested.
Abrin is a ribosome - inactivating protein (it blocks protein synthesis) and is one of the most deadly plant toxins known.
Fortunately, the toxin is only released if the seeds are broken (and swallowed) but this is unlikely since they have a hard seed coat.
This plant is also used in Ayurveda.
In certain parts of India, the boiled seeds are eaten; cooking seems to destroy the poison.
The small seeds are used in native jewelry (necklaces) and have a uniform weight of 1/10th of a gram.
Traditional medicinal applications
Leaves, roots and seeds are used.
The seeds are used as a contraceptive, to treat diabetes and chronic nephritis.
The root is used to induce abortion against abdominal discomfort, gonorrhea, jaundice and haemoglobinuric bile.
It is also traditionally used to treat tetanus and to prevent rabies.
USDA zone 9 - 11.
It can be planted in the spring up to zone 7 as an annual.
These seeds germinate more consistently if scarified; soak overnight in hot water or until they swell. Sow swollen seeds immediately in seeding mix. Donít over-water or allow drying out.
Full sun / partial shade, well - drained moist soil.
Plant in frost free spots.
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