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.
Identification credit: Pravin Kawale
Photographed in Alibag, Maharashtra.
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The flower labeled Rosary Pea is ...