Abrus Precatorius

Abrus Precatorius L.  (PAPILIONACEAE)
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Common names
Kannada: Gulagangi.
Malayalam: Kunni.
Tamil: Kuntumani.
Telugu: Guriginga.

Distribution: Perennial climbing shrubs. Leaves abruptly pinnate; rachis up to 11 cm long; leaflets 10-20 pairs, opposite, oblong, up to 2.5 x 0.8 cm, rounded at base, minutely apiculate, glabrous above, slightly hairy beneath; petiolules very short; stipules 0. Flowers in racemes; bract and bacteoles  small. Calyx  campanualate, glabrous or sparsely silky, teeth very short. Corolla much exserted, pink or white with a pink tinge. Stamens 9; anthers uniform. Ovary subsessile, many-ovuled; style short, incurved; stigma capitate. Fruit a dehiscing pod, oblong, ca 3.5 x 1.2 cm, truncate with a sharp deflexed beak, silky pubescent. Seeds 3-5, as large as a pea, usually bright scarlet with a black base, sometimes white with a black spot, or uniformly white, polished, shining.

Flowering & Fruiting: July - March.

Distribution: India: Almost throughout. Common in deciduous forests. 
Sri Lanka.

Uses:  The seeds have been used as weights by jewellers and as beads for making necklaces and other ornaments. Both the roots and leaves are used against cough and cold. The roots have been used as a substitute for liquorice. Root diuretic, tonic and emetic; root and leaf anticholagogue; seeds used in affections of nervous system, analgesic, anthelmintic, antimuscarinic, antispasmodic, uterine stimulant, used in leucoderma; seed paste used as an anti-inflammatory agent and applied locally in sciatica, stiffness of shoulder joints and paralysis. The seeds also posses antifertility properties. Seed paste combined with Plumbago zeylanica L. (Bilichitra moola) root is used for dressing leprosy wounds. The roots of Abrus precatorius, black sulfide of mercury, fruits of Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Bevina mara), Cannabis sativa L. (Ganja gida) and seeds of Croton tiglium L. are ground together in lime juice to form a paste and taken internally against paralysis. In the Unani system, the seeds are considered an abortifacient.
In Ayurveda root, leaf and seed are used for eye diseases, diseases of pitta andkapha, jaundice, pain, poisoning, fainting, arthritis and leucoderma.

The common Ayurvedic preparations are “Gunja Bhadra Ras”, Gunja Taila” and “Gunajdilepa”