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Jequirity
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Abreae
Genus: Abrus
Species: A. precatorius
Binomial name
Abrus precatorius
L.

Abrus precatorius, known commonly as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Rosary Pea, 'John Crow' Bead, Precatory bean, Indian Licorice, Saga Tree, Giddee Giddee or Jumbie Bead in Trinidad & Tobago,[1] is a legume with long, pinnate-leafleted leaves. It is also known as Gunja in Sanskrit and some Indian languages and Ratti in Hindi. With ratti name, it was also long used to measure 0.12125 grams of a traditional unit, mostly used by jewellers and Ayurved doctors.[2] The seeds are also often used as beads and in percussion instruments. The seed contains the toxic poison abrin. The plant is native to Indonesia 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.

Contents

Toxin

The toxin present in Abrus precatorius is a close relative to ricin called abrin. It is a dimer consisting of two protein subunits, termed A and B. The B chain facilitates abrin's entry into a cell by bonding to certain transport proteins on cell membranes, which then transport the toxin into the cell. Once inside the cell, the A chain prevents protein synthesis by inactivating the 26S subunit of the ribosome. One molecule of abrin will inactivate up to 1,500 ribosomes per second. Symptoms are identical to those of ricin, except abrin is more toxic by several orders of magnitude; the fatal dose of ricin is approximately 75 times greater than the fatal dose of abrin. Abrin can kill with a circulating amount of less than 3 μg (micrograms). 'Abrus precatorius' is called "kudri mani" in Tamil and used in Siddha medicine for centuries. The Tamil Siddhars knew about the toxic effects in plants and suggested various methods which is called "suththi seythal" or purification. Boiling the seeds in milk and drying will remove the toxic effect.

Uses

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, and 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. However, it has long been a symbol of love in China, and its name in Chinese is xiang si dou (Chinese: 相思豆), or "mutual love bean".

In Trinidad in the West Indies the brightly coloured seeds are strung into bracelets and worn around the wrist or ankle to ward off jumbies or evil spirits and "mal-yeux" - the evil eye. A tea is made from the leaves and used to treat fevers, coughs and colds.[3]

The Tamils use Abrus precatorius seeds of different colors. The red variety with black eye is the most common, but there are black, white and green varieties as well. In Siddha medicine the white variety is used to prepare oil that is used as an aphrodisiac.[4]

Gallery

Footnotes

  1. ^ Mendes (1986), p. 79.
  2. ^ Abrus precatorius : Gunja (Ratti)|Bhopal Birds|Parag Bakshi, March 01, 2007|Archieved on March 17, 2010
  3. ^ Mendes (1986), p. 79.
  4. ^ Dr.J.Raamachandran, "HERBS OF SIDDHA MEDICINES-The First 3D Book on Herbs", page 2

References

External links

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Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Abrus precatorius

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales
Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Abreae
Genus: Abrus
Species: Abrus precatorius

Name

Abrus precatorius L.

Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Abrus precatorius on Wikimedia Commons.

Vernacular names

Česky: Sotorek růžencový

References

  • Syst. nat. ed. 12, 2:472. 1767
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. 739

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