Abrus precatorius (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

Precatory-pea (Abrus precatorius) seeds contain a chemical called abrin, which is highly toxic. A single well-masticated seed can kill an adult human (Kingsbury 1964).

In Canada the seeds of this plant are imported into the country on necklaces and perhaps on other decorative items. These attractive seeds are shiny, red, and black and about 5-8 mm long (Hoy and Catling 1981).

References:

  • Davis, J. H. 1978. Abrus precatorius (rosary pea). The most common lethal plant poison. J. Fla. Med. Assoc., 65: 189-191.
  • Gunn, C. R. 1969. Abrus precatorius: a deadly gift. Gard. J., 19:2-5.
  • Hoy, D. L., Catling, P. M. 1981. Necklaces from nature - seed jewelry. Davidsonia, 12: 63-77.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Stirpe, F., Barbieri, L. 1986. Ribosome-inactivating proteins up to date. FEBS (Fed. Eur. Biochem. Soc.) Lett., 195: 1-8.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Abrus precatorius L.
Vernacular name(s):
precatory-pea
Scientific family name:
Leguminosae
Vernacular family name:
pea

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Abrus precatorius

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: Abrus precatorius - Google Search

Toxic parts:

  • Seeds

References:

  • Davis, J. H. 1978. Abrus precatorius (rosary pea). The most common lethal plant poison. J. Fla. Med. Assoc., 65: 189-191.
  • Gunn, C. R. 1969. Abrus precatorius: a deadly gift. Gard. J., 19:2-5.
  • Hoy, D. L., Catling, P. M. 1981. Necklaces from nature - seed jewelry. Davidsonia, 12: 63-77.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Abrin is a lectin of Abrus precatorius and is a ribosome-inactivating protein. This chemical is regarded as one of the most deadly plant toxins known.

LD-50: 0.56 micro gm/kg in mice (Stirpe and Barbieri 1986). Kingsbury (1964) states that a toxicity dose is about 0.00015% of a human subject's weight. A single well-masticated seed can kill an adult. Abrin causes large-scale disruption in lymphoid tissues, with apoptotic cell death. Apoptotic bodies have increased in the small intestine of experimental rats (Griffiths et al. 1987).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • Abrin

References:

  • Davis, J. H. 1978. Abrus precatorius (rosary pea). The most common lethal plant poison. J. Fla. Med. Assoc., 65: 189-191.
  • Griffiths, G. D., Leek, M. D., Gee, D. J. 1987. The toxic plant proteins ricin and abrin induce apoptotic changes in mammalian lymphoid tissues and intestine. J. Pathol., 151: 221-229.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Stirpe, F., Barbieri, L. 1986. Ribosome-inactivating proteins up to date. FEBS (Fed. Eur. Biochem. Soc.) Lett., 195: 1-8.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Davis, J. H. 1978. Abrus precatorius (rosary pea). The most common lethal plant poison. J. Fla. Med. Assoc., 65: 189-191.
  • Gunn, C. R. 1969. Abrus precatorius: a deadly gift. Gard. J., 19:2-5.
  • Hoy, D. L., Catling, P. M. 1981. Necklaces from nature - seed jewelry. Davidsonia, 12: 63-77.

Rodents

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Stirpe, F., Barbieri, L. 1986. Ribosome-inactivating proteins up to date. FEBS (Fed. Eur. Biochem. Soc.) Lett., 195: 1-8.

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