Tropical Rosary Pea

Weeeh. That picture is enough to scare anyone. Unusual tropical seeds.

Rosary Pea, Crab's Eye, Abrus precatorius

The plant is a slender twiner with alternately placed compound leaves. Each leaf has about 20 pairs of narrow, oblong leaflets, looking like a delicate feather. The rose to purple flowers are crowded at the end of a stalk. Fruits are short, inflated pods, splitting open when mature to reveal the round, hard and shiny seeds which are scarlet but black at the base. The plant is native to the tropics. It grows by the seashore among the undergrowth and in hedges. Seeds when broken or chewed or when the external coat is removed are highly toxic. The highly attractive seeds are sought after by children for beads. They are sometimes made into necklaces and rosaries.
Seeds are extremely poisonous if cracked; a single one, if swallowed can be fatal.

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