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Family: Scientific names: Fabaceae; Leguminosae L. Abrus precatorius F. Rhynchosia precatoria Abrus abrus (L.) W. Wight, Glycine abrus (L.), Crab's eye, pois rouge, jerquerity, jequirity bean, prayer beans, precatory pea or bean, rosary beans, rosary pea, rosarypea, tento muido root, leaf, seed A97:3:52 Precatory pea and Job's tears

Common names/ Synonyms:

Part(s) used:

Collection Information/Storage Location:


Health Hazard Identification:

Precatory Pea seeds are EXTREMELY TOXIC by ingestion. (TOXNET 2001). Kingsbury (1964) states that a toxicity dose is about 0.00015% of a human subject's weight. A single well-masticated seed can kill an adult. Effects of exposure depend upon present levels of bioactivity inherent in the plant material itself. Abrin causes largescale disruption in lymphoid tissues, with apoptotic cell death. If the seed is swallowed without damage to the seed coat poisoning is unlikely and the seed will tend to pass without incident. In cases where the seed coat is chewed or opened (as in drilling to make jewelry), toxic signs and/or death are likely. There may also be added health risks resulting from exposure to residues of toxic chemicals used to treat the artifact. The seeds in this necklace have NOT been laboratory tested for bioactivity. Use precautions. [DATA: abrin is similar to ricin, the main constituent of the castor bean plant (Ricinus communus): ORL HUMAN LD <5MG/KG; A

TASTE (< 7 DROPS) FOR 70 KG PERSON (150 LB), IPR MOUSE LD50=0.02 MG/KG] Sources: TOXNET 2002, Patrocka 2002, Duke 2000.

Important constituents of precatory pea: Known actions:

include abrin*, glycoside called abric, abrine* (not to be confused with the albuminous substance abrin).

agglutinin* Ribosome-inactivating protein, toxic lectin** hemagglutinin, toxalbumin:* *Merck 1996 **Amdur et al, 1991

The precatory pea contains insidious proteins called lectins that can cause red blood cells to clump together (agglutinate) and may stimulate abnormal cell division in B and T ­lymphocytes. A well-masticated precatory pea can kill (Kingsbury 1964) by destroying an important component of the protein synthesizing machinery of cells, the ribosome (Merck 1996). It works as a slow poison, eventually causing a total body collapse as necessary proteins are not replaced (Amdur et al, 1991).

First-Aid Measures:

If swallowed, wash out mouth with water provided person is conscious. Call a physician immediately. In case of eye contact, immediately separate the eyelids with fingers and flush eyes with water. In case of skin contact, wash skin thoroughly. If dust is inhaled, remove to fresh air. Wash any contaminated clothing before reuse. If needed, consult a physician. Handle this item by its mount or storage container. When handling, wear a particle dust mask or an appropriate NIOSH/MSHA respirator, chemicalresistant gloves, and a lab coat. (Discard disposable masks and gloves after each use.) Always wash hands thoroughly after handling, especially before eating or drinking. Handle this item in a well-ventilated area. When advisable, use a chemical fume hood. DO NOT BREATHE DUST. Do not get dust or residue in eyes, on skin, or on clothing. Sensitive to light and air. Keep inside tightly closed labeled mount, which clearly and properly identifies it as Extremely Toxic by Ingestion. Deadly Poison. Store in a cool dry place. Post ethnobotany material safety data sheet (EMSDS) in storage.

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Handling and Storage:

rev. 10/4/2004 Precatory Pea Necklace EMSDS

Description/History of Use:

This plant is a small, climbing tropical vine native to tropical climates and certain areas of southern Florida. The 1 to 1 1/2 inch seedpod contains several seeds that are bright red with a black spot. The castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) and the rosary pea plant (Abrus precatorius), are the two deadliest plants in the world. Because of their remarkably uniform weight of 1/10th of a gram, goldsmiths of East Asia used the seeds of Abrus precatorius as standard weights for weighing gold and silver. According to Armstrong (1998) the famous Koh-i-noor diamond of India, now one of the British crown jewels was reportedly weighed using seeds of Abrus precatorius. Traditional method of use: in healing the leaves and roots are used in teas, tinctures and salves.

Medicinal Uses:

General abortion, ache(head), aphrodisiac, bite(snake), bladder, boil, CNS sedative, cancer, chest, cold, colic, conjunctivitis, contraceptive, convulsion, cough, diarrhea, diuretic, emetic , expectorant, fever, freckles, gastritis, heart, hookworm, insomnia, jaundice, kidney, laxative, malaria, night-blindness, purgative, rheumatism, sedative, skin, throat, venereal

Other Uses:

deadly poison, refrigerant, sweetener, soap, vermifuge

Toxicological Information:

Acute Effects: Severity of an exposure is often dependent on the degree of mastication of seeds. Toxic and fatal if seed coat is broken and swallowed. Abdominal pains; vomiting. Persistent diarrhea, often with bloody mucus begins after latent period of up to three days. Death may occur two to three days later of complications related to loss of intestinal function. Cerebral edema and cardiac arrhythmias occur due to changes in plasma composition (Amdur, Doull and Klaassen,


Stability and Reactivity:

Incompatibilities: Strong oxidizing agents; Sensitive to light; Sensitive to air. Hazardous combustion or decomposition products: Toxic fumes of: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide.

Disposal Methods:

Dissolve or mix with a combustible solvent and burn in a chemical incinerator equipped with an afterburner and scrubber. Observe Federal, state, and local environmental regulations.

Other Information:

-The above information is believed to be correct but does not purport to be all-inclusive and shall be used only as a guide. For additional information contact Rose Kubiatowicz, [email protected], Science Museum of Minnesota, 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55102. -Photos: 2001 Tim Ready. -Consultants: Mike Frigon, M.S., Safety Manager, Science Museum of Minnesota; Gretchen Anderson, Conservator, Science Museum of Minnesota. -See Industry Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS): abrine for further information. -The North American butterfly Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus [Fabricius] ) uses the rosary pea (Abrus precatorius) as caterpillar host.

Useful Sources and Works Cited:

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Branch. 1993. Notes on poisoning: Abrus precatorius. Canadian Poisonous Plants Information Service. Internet address at: [] Amdur, M.O., J. Doull and C.D. Klaassen, eds. 1991. Cassarett and Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons, 4th ed. Pergamon Press, New York. 1031 pp. Armstrong, W.P. 1998. Botanical jewelry. Wayne's Word: 9 May 2001. Modified from:Terra 30(3):26-33. Davis, J H. 1978. Abrus precatorius (rosary pea): The most common lethal plant poison. Journal of Florida Medical Association, 65:189-191. Duke, J.A. 1998. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, Agricultural Research Service, USDA. Internet address at: []. Griffiths, G.D., M.D. Leek, and D.J. Gee. 1987. The toxic plant proteins ricin and abrin induce apoptotic changes in mammalian lymphoid tissues and intestine. Journal of Pathology, 151:221-229. Gunn, C.R. 1969. Abrus precatorius: a deadly gift. Gard. J., 19:2-5. Hoy, D.L., and P.M. Catling. 1981. Necklaces from nature-seed jewelry. Davidsonia, 12: 63-77. Kingsbury, J.M.. 1964. Poisonous Plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Merck. 1996. The Merck Index, 12th ed. Merck Research Laboratories, Whitehouse Station, N.J. 10330 pp. Morris, J.B. 1999. Legume genetic resources with novel "value added" industrial and pharmaceutical use. Perspectives on New Crops and New Uses, J. Janick (ed.). ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA. Internet address at: []. National Library of Medicine. 2001. TOXNET. Internet address at: []. rev. 10/4/2004 Precatory Pea Necklace EMSDS Page 2 of 2

Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pp, 54 color plates. Patocka, J. 2001. Abrin and Ricin-two dangerous poisonous proteins. ASA Newsletter 01-4(85):20-25. Internet address at: []. Sigma-Aldrich. 2002. Material Safety Data Sheets. Internet address at: [htttp://]. Stirpe, F., and L. Barbieri. 1986. Ribosome-inactivating proteins up to date. FEBS (Federation European Biochemical Socities) Letter 195: 1-8. Taylor, L. Tropical Plant Database. 2002. Raintree Nutrition, Inc., Austin, Texas 78758. Internet address at: [] (18 Jan 2003).

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