Monographs Details: Abrus (L.) Wright abrus
Authority: Britton, Nathaniel L. Flora Borinqueña.
Description:Species Description - Well known from its round, shining, scarlet seeds with a black base, also called Jumbee-beads, and used in making necklaces, and rosaries, this slender, somewhat woody vine is widely distributed in all tropical regions. The Spanish name Peronia, also applied to it means pin-head in English; Wild Licorice is another English name, and it is also called Weather Plant, erroneously supposed to foretell rain by infolding its leaflets. It was first known botanically from India and Egypt. It is frequent in thickets and waste grounds at lower and middle altitudes in Porto Rico, growing also on the islands Vieques and Culebra, and is the only species of its genus inhabiting our area, probably not indigenous, having been widely spread by planting.
Abrus (Greek, graceful) has 5 known species, all of tropical distribution. They have once-compound leaves with an even number of pairs of numerous, small, untoothed leaflets, the leaf-axis terminating in a small bristle, The flowers are small, and clustered, the calyx with very short teeth, the standard petal ovate, the wing-petals oblong and curved, the keel also curved, and longer than the wings; there are 9 stamens, united by their filaments; the ovary contains several or many ovules, the short, curved style is topped by a small stigma. The pod is flat, cross-partitioned, and splits into 2 valves when ripe, releasing the seeds.
Abrus Abrus usually climbs or twines, becoming 2 or 3 meters long, smooth, or the young-parts somewhat hairy. The short-stalked leaves are from 5 to 10 centimeters long, with from 8 to 15 pairs of thin, oblong, blunt and minutely tipped leaflets from 8 to 20 millimeters long, which are smooth on the upper side and sparingly hairy beneath, scarcely stalked, and readily detached when dry. The stalked flower-clusters are from 5 to 8 centimeters long; the red, purple, or rarely white corolla is from 8 to 16 millimeters long. She oblong, beaked, pod is from 2 to 3.5 centimeters long, about 1 centimeter wide, containing several of the characteristic seeds, which are 5 or 6 millimeters long.
Glycine abrus Linnaeus, Species Plantarum 753. 1753.
Abrus praecatorius Linnaeus, Systema Naturae, edition 12, 472. 1767.
Abrus abrus Wight, Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 9: 171. 1905.