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Abrus precatorius L.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Abrus abrus
Common Name: Rosary pea, Precatory bean, Crab's eyes, 相思子
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Moderate Water Climber, Vine and Liana


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana


Native Distribution India
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Abrus precatorius is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs and hedges. It has no special organs of attachment.
Fruits The fruit (pod) is flat, oblong and truncate-shaped with sharp deflexed beak about 3-5cm long, 1.2 cm wide, and silky-textured. The seedpod curls back when it open to reveal the seeds.
Habitat Naturally grow in fairly dry regions at low elevations.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( The plant is used in some traditional medicine to treat scratches and sores, and wounds. The leaves are used for their anti-suppurative.  In China, the seed were once used to treat fever, malaria, headache, worms and dropsy. In Indochina, the roots are used to treat diarrhoea and the bark for dysentery, while in Burma the root is used to treat cough. Various African tribes used powdered seed as oral contraceptives. Boiled seeds are eaten in certain parts of India. Caution: (The seeds containing abrin which are highly poisonous when if the seed coat is cracked. A single seed can cause blindness or even death if ingested.)
[Others]: The seeds are used to made necklaces and other ornaments. In some countries, they used it in their handiwork and to count in school.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Compound (Even-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage

Non - Foliar and Storage

Bark Colour(s) Brown
Mature Bark Texture Smooth

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Pink, Purple
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Mature Seed Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Seed Description Oval-shaped, about 0.6 cm. Mature seed has hard and impermeable seed coat.
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)

Image Repository



Master ID 29171
Species ID 3480
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.