Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Vine
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Plant Height: 6 - 10 feet
Leaves: Deciduous
Fruit: Edible to birds
Other: 1 1/2 inch oblong flat pod containing 3-8 hard, bright red seeds that are highly toxic except to birds.
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Other: Pale white to violet-pink
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Summer
Underground structures: Taproot
Uses: Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Toxicity: Fruit is poisonous
Other: Ingestion of a single seed is said to cause death in humans and animals.

Abrus precatorius image used with permission. By J.M.Garg (Own wo

Comments:
Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Oct 20, 2016 10:09 AM

This plant came up as a volunteer in front of my house. I waited until it bloomed so I could be sure of an ID, and then I found it was a Category I invasive (the worst), in Florida. So I'm about to go rip it out before it goes to seed. I put up a bird feeder for the first time this year, and I suspect one of the birds brought me the seed. They've also carried other unwanted seeds like Brazilian Pepper into my yard, and you can't blame birds for being birds, but you can be pro-active and get rid of invasive plants in your garden! And so I'm off to do a little weeding!

FYI, as a butterfly gardener, I recognized this was something in the Fabaceae family and thought it might be a host plant I could use. That was a big reason I let it grow until it bloomed. I want to say that I never saw the first caterpillar on it. I was hoping their presence might help lead to an identification. Caterpillars tend to prefer native host plants over non-native, which is another good reason to go native.

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Posted by jmorth (central Illinois) on Oct 26, 2016 11:31 AM

Seeds contain one of the world's most toxic poisons, abrin. Ingestion of even one seed can be fatal. The poison is twice as toxic as ricin. Used for murder and cattle killing in India, where it is native. Where introduced, it can be very aggressive (for example, areas in Florida). Used also to make jewelry as the seeds are most colorful (most are black and red, though all-black, all-white, all-red, all-green, and orange are possible).
Host plant for the Cassius Blue butterfly.

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