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Botanical Name: Abrus precatorius
Common Name: Indian liquorice, Crab's eye
Synonyms: Abrus precatorius L., Abrus precatorius subsp. africanus Verdc.
Altitude: 1050 mt.
Seed longevity: 1-2 years
Description: 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.
Uses: 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.
In Siddha medicine, 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 used after mitigation.
The plant is also used in Ayurveda and is said to promote hair growth. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in Indian hair products