Abrus precatorius (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Abrus precatorius L.

Protologue: Syst. nat. ed. 12: 472 (1767).

Vernacular names

  • Indian liquorice, jequirity bean, crab's eye (En). Jéquirity, liane réglisse (Fr)
  • Indonesia: saga, saga manis (general), saga telik (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: akar saga
  • Philippines: saga, kansasaga, bangati (general)
  • Burma (Myanmar): ywe-nge
  • Cambodia: √¢ngkreem, kre:m kr√¢:m (Kompong Thom)
  • Laos: khua sa em, makam
  • Thailand: ma klam taanuu (Bangkok), klam khruea (Chiang Mai), ma khaam thao (Trang)
  • Vietnam: d√¢y c∆∞·ªùm th·∫£o, cam th·∫£o d√¢y, d√¢y t∆∞∆°ng t∆∞.


Africa, tropical and subtropical America (introduced), tropical Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands; throughout South-East Asia.


The seeds have played an important role in the treatment of conjuctivitis in various parts of the world. An extract of roots and leaves is a traditional cure for aphtha. In coastal areas of Papua New Guinea, leaves are chewed for a week as a traditional treatment for asthma. The leaves are also used in the same way as liquorice. The seeds are used in ornaments.


A woody climber up to 6(-9) m long, stems often attaining 1.5 cm in diameter; leaves with 16-34 oblong, obovate-oblong or ovate leaflets, obtuse to acuminate at apex; inflorescence thick and robust, usually curved, flowers in dense clusters on cushion-like nodes; fruit oblong, inflated, 1-7-seeded; seeds ovoid, scarlet with area around the hilum black, rarely entirely black, whitish or yellowish. The African material has been separated as subsp. africanus Verdc., based on minor differences in pod characteristics from the Asian subsp. precatorius. A. precatorius occurs in grasslands, cropped land (also as a weed), thickets, edges of monsoon rain forest and gallery forest up to 1500 m altitude.

Selected sources

65, 130, 190, 193, 196, 202, 255, 268, 350, 353, 301, 363, 398, 417, 557, 568, 580, 597, 633, 696, 706, 711, 712, 714, 736, 738, 811, 896, 948, 1015, 1035, 1059, 1060, 1170, 1178, 1206, 1328, 1519, 1520, 1541, 1563, 1612.


R.H.M.J. Lemmens & F.J. Breteler