Scientific name: Abrus precatorius L.
Common name: Precatory bean, rosary pea, crab’s-eye, jequirity bean
Description: This member of the legume family is a twining, perennial vine that may climb on other plants to a height of 10 to 20 feet. The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, each leaflet being about 1/2 inch long. There are numerous inflorescences in the leaf axils along the stem. The many flowers are small and red to purple. The legume type fruit is 1 1/2 inches long and is conspicuous because of its finely appressed hairs. The bright glossy scarlet seeds are tipped with jet black.
Occurrence: This native vine of tropical countries was introduced into Florida, where it is now a weed of fence rows and citrus groves.
Toxicity: The toxic compound, abrin, is so potent that one thoroughly chewed seed is enough to kill an adult human. The brilliant seeds have been made into rosaries, bracelets, necklaces, and toys. Such uses and the sale of these seeds are now prohibited in the United States because of the hi h toxicity of the seeds.
Symptoms: The abrin in precatory beans causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, irregular pulse, incoordination, collapse, paralysis, and death.