Rosary Pea commonly known as jequirity bean is a herbaceous flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae. It is a slender, perennial climber with long, pinnate-leafleted leaves that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges.
The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic because of the presence of abrin. Ingestion of a single seed, well chewed, can be fatal to both adults and children.
The plant is native to Asia and Australia. It has a tendency to become weedy and invasive where it has been introduced.
Rosary Pea is a high-climbing, twining, or trailing woody vine with alternately compound leaves, indigenous to India. Leaves alternate, 5-13 cm long, even-pinnately compound with 5-15 pairs of leaflets, these oval to oblong, to 1.8 cm long, with margins entire. The flowers, shaped like pea flowers, are small, pale, violet to pink and arranged in clusters. Fruit a short, oblong pod, splitting before falling to reveal 3-8 shiny hard seeds, 6-7 mm long, scarlet with black bases. The seeds of abrus precatorius are much valued in native jewelry for their bright coloration. The third of the bean with the hilum (attachment scar) is black, while the rest is bright red, suggesting a ladybug. Jewelry-making with jequirity seeds is dangerous, and there have been cases of death by a finger-prick while boring the seeds for beadwork. The seeds were traditionally used to weigh jewellery in India. The measure ratti
रत्ती is equal to the weight of one seed.
has been used in Siddha medicine for centuries. The white variety is used to prepare oil that is claimed to be an aphrodisiac.
A tea is made from the leaves and used for fevers, coughs and colds. Seeds are poisonous and therefore are only consumed after heat treatment. 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. Like with castor oil, the protein toxin is denatured when subjected to high temperatures rendering it innocuous