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Overview

Brief Summary

Rosary pea (Abrus precatorius) is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. It is a legume with alternate compound leaves, 2 to 5 inches long, with 5 to 15 pairs of oblong leaflets. A key characteristic in identifying rosary pea is the lack of a terminal leaflet on the compound leaves. The flowers are small, pale, and violet to pink, clustered in leaf axils. (Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, 2011) The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads in native jewelry, as well as in percussion instruments. The red variety with black eye is the most common coloring for the seeds, but there are black, white and green varieties as well. These seeds are toxic due to the presence of abrin. The outer shell of the seed protects the contents from the stomachs of most mammals. A tea is made from the leaves and used to treat fevers, coughs, and colds. Rosary pea is native to the Old World tropics, but now grows widely throughout tropical and subtropical areas of the world where it has been introduced. (Wikipedia, 2011)

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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

Notes: Deciduous forests also in the plains
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Miscellaneous Details

Caterpillars of common Cerulean and Indian Sunbeam butterflies feed on the plant. The dried leaves eaten with betel leaves. The seeds are toxic.
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Brief

Flowering class: Dicot Habit: Climber
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Description

Woody, deciduous climber. Leaves paripinnate with numerous pairs of oblong leaflets. Flowers in short terminal inflorescences, lilac. Pods in clusters, grey-green, densely velvety, drying brown to black and splitting to reveal the bright red and black seeds.
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Derivation of specific name

precatorius: used for a rosary, as the seeds of Abrus
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution: In disturbed areas, such as secondary forests or along trails. Also on Culebra, Vieques, and the Virgin Islands. Native to the paleotropics, but found naturalized throughout the Neotropics.

Public Forests:Cambalache, Ceiba, Guánica, Piñones, and Susúa.

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"Scarce in the scrub jungles and deciduous forests from plains to 600m. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Tropical Africa."
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"
Global Distribution

Pantropical

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts

"
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Maharashtra: Common throughout Kerala: All districts
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Distribution: Pakistan; throughout India, Ceylon and Tropical Africa; introduced widely in the new and the old world; often planted.
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Tropics and subtropics of Africa, Asia, south to Australia, Pacific Isl.
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Physical Description

Morphology

"
Flower

In terminal and/or axillary pseudoracemes, clustered around the swollen nodes of rachis; pink coloured. Flowering throughout the year.

Fruit

An oblong pod, thinly septate, pilose, wrinkled; seeds upto 5, subglobose. Fruiting throughout the year.

Field tips

Seeds blood red with a lateral black blotch around the hilum.

Leaf Arrangement

Alternate-spiral

Leaf Type

Paripinnate

Leaf Shape

Oblong

Leaf Apex

Obtuse

Leaf Base

Obtuse

Leaf Margin

Entire

"
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Physical Description

Perennial, Vines, twining, climbing, Woody throughout, Stems woody below, or from woody crown or caudex, Nodules present, Stems erect or ascending, Stems greater than 2 m tall, Stems solid, Stems or young twigs glabrous or sparsely glabrate, Stems or young twigs sparsely to densely hairy, Leaves alternate, Leaves petiolate, Stipules inconspicuous, absent, or caducous, Stipules setiform, subulate or acicular, Stipules deciduous, Stipules free, Leaves compound, Leaves even pinnate, Leaf or leaflet margins entire, Leaflets opposite, Stipels present at base of leaflets, Leaflets 10-many, Leaves glabrous or nearly so, Flowers in axillary clusters or few-floweredracemes, 2-6 flowers, Inflorescences racemes, Inflorescence axillary, Inflorescence terminal, Flowers zygomorphic, Calyx 5-lobed, Calyx glabrous, Petals separate, Corolla papilionaceous, Petals clawed, Petals red, Petals blue, lavander to purple, or violet, Banner petal ovo id or obovate, Wing petals narrow, oblanceolate to oblong, Wing tips obtuse or rounded, Stamens 9-10, Stamens monadelphous, united below, Filaments glabrous, Style terete, Fruit a legume, Fruit unilocular, Fruit freely dehiscent, Fruit elongate, straight, Fruit oblong or ellipsoidal, Fruit exserted from calyx, Fruit compressed between seeds, Fruit torulose or moniliform, strongly constricted between seeds, Fruit beaked, Fruit glabrous or glabrate, Fruit 3-10 seeded, Seeds ovoid to rounded in outline, Seed surface smooth, Seeds red, or scarlet and black.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Description

Perennial climber, branches slender, glabrous or sparsely silky. Stipules 3.5 -6 mm long, linear, deciduous. Leaves 5-10 cm long. Petiole 0.6-1.2 cm long. Leaflets 10-20 pairs, opposite, petiolule less than 1 mm, lamina 0.8-2.2 cm long, 3.5-6 cm broad, oblong, tip rounded, apiculate, glabrous above, sparsely hairy below. Racemes axillary, pedunculate, shorter or equalling the leaves. Pedicels short. Calyx 2.5 mm long, glabrous or sparsely silky, teeth very short. Corolla pink or white with a pink tinge, vexillum 9-10 mm long. Pod 2.5-4.2 cm long, 1-1.3 cm broad, oblong. Seeds 3-5, ovoid, 7-8 mm long, scarlet with a black spot at the hilum, sometimes white with a black spot or uniformly black or white.
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Elevation Range

300-1100 m
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Diagnostic Description

Abrus precatorius L., Syst. Nat. ed. 12, 472. 1767.

Fig. 97. A-D

Slightly woody vine, twining, much branched from the base, attainig 3 m in length. Stems green, cylindrical, puberulent, turning dark gray, rugose, glabrous and slightly flattened when mature. Leaves alternate, pinnate, 3-5 cm long; leaflets 8-15 pairs, 0.8-1.5 × 0.3-0.7 cm, oblong or oblanceolate, membranaceous, the apex rounded and mucronate, the base rounded, the margins entire; upper surface glabrous, dull, with inconspicuous venation; lower surface puberulent, dull, with the midvein prominent; petiolules minute, slender; rachis without glands, puberulent, with a minute stipel at the base of each leaflet; petioles minute, slender, with the base slightly swollen; stipules filiform, 2-3 mm long, persistent. Inflorescences of small axillary or terminal pseudoracemes, with 5-7 flowers clustered on the swellings of the rachis; bracts minute, deciduous. Calyx campanulate, green, 3-5 mm long, puberulent; corolla pink, the standard ovate, with the center dark pink, up to 1 cm long, concave, the apex acute, the wings and keels as long as the standard, unguiculate. Legumes oblong, 2-4.5 × 1-1.5 cm, slightly inflated, with the apex elongate and recurved and the margins slightly undulate, opening along the two sutures. Seeds ellipsoid, brilliant red, with a black spot at the base, 6-8 mm long.

Phenology: Flowering from October to June and fruiting from November to September.

Status: Exotic, naturalized, rather common.

Selected Specimens Examined: Acevedo-Rdgz., P. 10486; 710; 2370; Britton, N.L. 150; Goll, G.P. 241; 521; 951; Heller, A.A. 603; Sargent, F.H. 634; Shafer, J.A. 2340; Sintenis, P. 8; Stevenson, J.A. 508; Underwood, L.M. 405; 967; Wetmore 234.

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Diagnostic

"Woody perennial twining shrubs; young stems puberulent. Leaves even-pinnate; leaflets 12-16 pairs, 0.8-2.5 x 0.4-1 cm, oblong to elliptic, base and apex obtuse, lower surface sparsely pubescent. Flowers pink, in axillary racemes; bracts deltoid, minute; bracteoles c. 1mm across, suborbicular. Calyx 2-4 mm long, hispid. Petals 9-12 mm long. Stamens 9, monadelphous. Ovary subsessile, many ovuled; style incurved. Pods 3-4 x 1-1.5 cm, oblong, slightly inflated, fulvo-puberulent. Seeds many, 5-7 x 4-5 mm, subglobose, scarlet red with black eyes."
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Diagnostic

"Habit: A small, wiry straggler, to 5m."
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Diagnostic

Habit: Twining shrub
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

"Deciduous forests, also in the plains"
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General Habitat

Less common in thickets in scrub jungle upto 600m. Indian subcontinent and Tropical Africa.
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Population Biology

Frequency

Frequent
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: October-May
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Flower/Fruit

Fl.Per.: July-October.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Abrus precatorius

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Abrus precatorius

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 16
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Folklore

Indigenous Information: Seeds used to make jewels.
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Uses

The seeds are used for jewellers weights and for necklaces and other ornaments. The leaves are chewed fresh.
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Uses

Medicinal
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Wikipedia

Abrus precatorius

Abrus precatorius, known commonly as jequirity,[1] Crab's eye,[1] rosary pea,[1] precatory pea or bean,[1] John Crow Bead,[2] Indian licorice,[1] Akar Saga, gidee gidee[1] or Jumbie bead[1] in Trinidad & Tobago,[3] is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. It is a legume with long, pinnate-leafleted leaves.

The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic due to the presence of Abrin. The plant is native to India and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world where it has been introduced. It has a tendency to become weedy and invasive where it has been introduced.

Ecology and invasiveness[edit]

Abrus precatorius is a severely invasive plant in warm temperate to tropical regions, so much so that it has become effectively pantropical in distribution. It had been widely introduced by humans, and the brightly coloured and hard-shelled seeds had been spread by birds. By the end of the twentieth century, it had been proclaimed as an invasive weed in many regions including some in Belize, Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Polynesia and parts of the United States. In Florida in particular, the plant has invaded undisturbed pinelands and hammocks, including the vulnerable pine rocklands.

Once Abrus precatorius plants have grown to maturity under favourable conditions, their deep roots are extremely difficult to remove, and the plants' aggressive growth, hard-shelled seeds, and ability to sucker, renders an infestation extremely difficult to eradicate and makes it very difficult to prevent re-infestation. Herbicides such as glyphosate are effective, but need skilled application if they are not to do more harm than good.[4]

Toxin[edit]

The toxin abrin is a dimer consisting of two protein subunits, termed A and B. The B chain facilitates abrin's entry into a cell by bonding to certain transport proteins on cell membranes, which then transport the toxin into the cell. Once inside the cell, the A chain prevents protein synthesis by inactivating the 26S subunit of the ribosome. One molecule of abrin will inactivate up to 1,500 ribosomes per second.

Symptoms are identical to those of ricin, except abrin is more toxic by almost two orders of magnitude; the fatal dose of abrin is approximately 75 times smaller than the fatal dose of ricin. Abrin can kill with a circulating amount of less than 3 micrograms.[citation needed]Abrin has an estimated human fatal dose of 0.1–1 µg/kg.[clarification needed] Ingesting the intact seeds typically results in no clinical findings, as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract due to their hard shell.[5]

Abrus precatorius, called kudri mani in Tamil and Guruvinda ginja in Telugu, has been used in Siddha medicine for centuries. The Tamil Siddhars knew about the toxic effects in plants and suggested various methods which is called "suththi seythal" or purification. This is done by boiling the seeds in milk and then drying them. The protein is denatured when subjected to high temperatures which removes its toxicity.[6]

In March 2012 a recall was issued for bracelets made using Jequirity Beans sold by the Eden Project and other outlets in the UK.[7]

This plant is also poisonous to horses.[8]

Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, liver failure, and death, usually after several days. Ingesting a single seed can kill an adult human. The seeds have been used as beads in jewelry, which is dangerous; inhaled dust is toxic and pinpricks can be fatal. The seeds are unfortunately attractive to children.

Uses[edit]

The bright red seeds of A. precatorius are strung as jewellery.

The seeds of Abrus precatorius are much valued in native jewelry for their bright coloration. Most beans are black and red, suggesting a ladybug, though other colors are available. Jewelry-making with jequirity seeds is dangerous, and there have been cases of death by a finger-prick while boring the seeds for beadwork.[citation needed]

In Trinidad in the West Indies the brightly coloured seeds are strung into bracelets and worn around the wrist or ankle to ward off jumbies or evil spirits and "mal-yeux" - the evil eye. The Tamils use Abrus seeds of different colors. The red variety with black eye is the most common, but there are black, white and green varieties as well.

The seeds of Abrus precatorius are very consistent in weight. Formerly Indians used these seeds to weigh gold using a measure called a Ratti, where 8 Ratti = 1 Masha; 12 Masha = 1 Tola (11.6 Grams).[citation needed]

Traditional medicine[edit]

In Siddha medicine, the white variety is used to prepare oil that is claimed to be an aphrodisiac.[9] A tea is made from the leaves and used to treat fevers, coughs and colds.[3] Seeds are poisonous and therefore are used after mitigation.[10] The plant is also used in Ayurveda.[11]

The oil made from the Crab's Eye seed is highly used in Ayurveda because it promotes/stimulates hair growth.

Trichup is a herbal/hair product containing many ingredients found in the plants native to India. Crab's Eye(Abrus Precatorius) is one of those ingredients used to make this product, and using Ayurveda as the base for it.


Laboratory study of extracts[edit]

A variety of pharmacological effects have been observed in rodents, but have not been demonstrated clinically in humans, including:

Names[edit]

Abrus precatorius has different names in various Indian and other languages.[15]

Cultural significance[edit]

In Rajasthan, India Chirmi song is associated with this plant.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wagstaff, D. Jesse (2008). International Poisonous Plants Checklist: An Evidence-Based Reference. CRC Press. p. 1. ISBN 1420062522. Retrieved October 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ Bisby, Frank (1994). Phytochemical Dictionary of the Leguminosae, Volume 1. CRC Press. p. 1. ISBN 0412397706. Retrieved October 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Mendes (1986), p. 79.
  4. ^ Langeland, et al., K.A. (2008). "Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas - Second Edition". University of Florida-IFAS Pub SP 257. 
  5. ^ Jang D.H., Hoffman R.S., Lewis L.S. "Attempted suicide, by mail order: Abrus precatorius".Clinical Toxicology. Conference: 2010 International Congress of the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists Bordeaux France. Conference Start: 20100511 Conference End: 20100514. Conference Publication: (var.pagings). 48 (3) (pp 308),
  6. ^ "Abrus precatorius L._IPCS INCHEM". 
  7. ^ "Eden Project Recall Of Bracelets Made From Jequirity Bean". 
  8. ^ Knight, Anthony; Walter, Richard (2001). A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America. Teton NewMedia. p. 121. ISBN 1893441113. Retrieved October 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ Raamachandran, J. "Herbs of Siddha medicines: The First 3D Book on Herbs", page 2.
  10. ^ Verma, D.; Tiwari, S. S.; Srivastava, S.; Rawat, A. (2011). "Pharmacognostical evaluation and phytochemical standardization of Abrus precatorius L. seeds". Natural Product Sciences 17 (1): 51–57. 
  11. ^ Major Herbs of Ayurveda. 
  12. ^ Arora, R.; Gill, N. S.; Kaur, S.; Jain, A. D. (2011). "Phytopharmacological evaluation of ethanolic extract of the seeds of Abrus precatorius linn". Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 6 (6): 580–588. doi:10.3923/jpt.2011.580.588. 
  13. ^ Okoko, I. I.; Osinubi, A. A.; Olabiyi, O. O.; Kusemiju, T. O.; Noronha, C. C.; nlawon, A. O. (2010). "Antiovulatory and anti-implantation potential of the methanolic extract of seeds of Abrus precatorius in the rat". Endocrine practice 16 (4): 554–560. doi:10.4158/ep09011.or. 
  14. ^ Mensah, A. Y.; Bonsu, A. S.; Fleischer, T. C. (2011). "Investigation of the bronchodilator activity of abrus precatorius". Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res 6 (2): [pp. 9–13]. 
  15. ^ Dr. K. M. Nadkarni's Indian Materia Medica, Volume 1, Edited by A. K. Nadkarni, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1976, pp. 5.

More References[edit]

  • Mendes, John (1986). Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary. Arima, Trinidad.
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Notes

Comments

The seeds are commonly used by jewellers as weights. They are poisonous and are put to many medicinal uses.

According to the sub specific classification proposed by Verdcourt (Kew Bull.24:240. 1970) our specimens belong to Abrus precatorius ssp. precatorius.

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