ABRUS PRECATORIUS L.

Family: Fabaceae

Bengali/vernacular name: Kunch, Ratti.
Tribal name: Sarakao (Marma).
English name: Indian Liquorice, Crab's eye, Jequirity.

Description of the plant:
ABRUS PRECATORIUS L. is a deciduous dextrose climber with slender flexible branches. Leaves peripinnate, 5-10 cm long; leaflets 20-40, ligulate-oblong 1-1.6 cm long. Racemes many-flowered, crowded, usually shorter than the leaves. Corolla white, 3-4 times the calyx c. 2 mm. Pods oblong, turgid, 2.5-3.7 cm long. Seeds small, ovoid, bright scarlet with a black spot at the hilum.

Using information:

Seeds are considered purgative, emetic, tonic, aphrodisiac; useful in diarrhoea and dysentery; internally they are poisonous in large doses. Poultice of seeds are used as suppository to bring abortion. Seeds are used locally in sciatica, stiffness of the shoulder joint, paralysis and other nervous diseases. In white leprosy, a paste composed of the seed and Plumbago root is applied as a stimulant dressing.

It is believed by the tribal of Chittagong Hill Tracts that, the red part of the seed (macerated) taken once at bed time inserting in Banana pulp, can cause sterility in women for a year. Roots are emetic, alexiteric and diuretic; used in obstinate cough, sore throat and rheumatism. Leaves are used as a substitute for liquorice; they are considered useful in biliousness and leucoderma, itching and other skin diseases. Decoction is used for cough, cold and colic.

Seed extract is antibacterial and fungistatic against Cryptococcus neoformans. It is CNS depressant, analgesic, anti-muscarine, antiseptic and uterine stimulant; showed anticancer activity against Ehrlich ascites tumour cells; possesses antifertility activity in female albino rats. EtoH extract inhibits growth of Staphylococcus aureus, enteric and dysenteric group of microorganisms and some pathogenic fungi.


Abrus Precatorius
ABRUS PRECATORIUS L.


Root extract also showed antifertility activity in rats (Asolkar et al., 1992). Alcoholic extract of seeds showed parasympathomimetic effect on smooth muscle of guinea pig and rabbit and skeletal muscle of frog; aquous extract showed anthelmintic activity (Rastogi & Mehrotra 1993). Glycyrrhizin contained in leaves and roots is expectorant and anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic (Ghani, 2003).

Chemical constituents:
Seeds contain two lectins, abrin-a and abrin-b, indole alkaloids and anthocyanins. Three toxins, abrin I, II, and III, and agglutinins have been isolated from seeds. Seeds also contain the alkaloids abrine, hypaphorine, trigonelline and choline; flavons, abrectorin and aknone; gallic acid, keto steroid P-sterone, other steroids, abricin, abridin and cholesterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, terpenoids, squalene and urease enzyme.

It also contains amino acids - alanine, serine & valine. Leaves contain glycyrrhizin and abrins. Roots also contain glycyrrhizin, an acid resin, precol, abrol; alkaloids, abrasine and precasine, and isoflavaquinones, abrusquinone A, B and C and also polysaccharides. A saturated alcohol and pinitol have been isolated from waxy material of leaves (Ghani, 2003; Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1990 & 93).

Distribution:
All over Bangladesh on bushes and fences.