Abrus Species, Crab's Eyes, Precatory Bean, Red Bean Vine, Rosary Pea, Wild Licorice

Abrus precatorius

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Abrus (AY-brus) (Info)
Species: precatorius (prek-uh-TOR-ee-us) (Info)
Synonym:Abrus abrus
Synonym:Abrus cyaneus
Synonym:Abrus precatorius var. novo-guineensis
Synonym:Glycine abrus


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Vines and Climbers

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


Unknown - Tell us


USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Magenta (pink-purple)

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Avon Park, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Crestview, Florida

Dunnellon, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Sebring, Florida(2 reports)

Rincon, Georgia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 19, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a Florida state noxious weed. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has listed it as a Category l invasive species.

It has naturalized in 4 states.


On Nov 10, 2013, Heeve from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Not only one of the most invasive vining plants in my yard but as others have stated, by far the deadliest. If a child were to somehow get a hold of the seeds and CHEW them and then swallow, they are in BIG trouble with little hope of treatment. The toxin derived from them is FAR more deadly then Ricin and among the top 3 deadliest Bio-Toxins known to man anywhere on the planet with no known cure. Symptom onset (Including respiratory failure, sinus tachycardia, severe abdominal pain among others.) has been known to take up to several days and by then can be nearly impossible to determine what the cause could have been so treating even the symptoms can be a total crap-shoot and even when administered has been shown in the past to be wholly ineffective. While there have been survivors who ha... read more


On Oct 27, 2011, wtliftr from Wilson's Mills, NC wrote:

I have a question...
I was in Florida in June, and in a park in Miami, I saw a large number of similar seeds on the ground. The difference was that the seeds were solid red, without the black spot on them. Same bright red color, same shape. A similar looking plant to the photos here was evidently producing the seeds. Maybe the plant was a close cousin to A. precatorious? I can't find any pics that I may have taken of the plant to post here.
Any help would be appreciated!


On Sep 9, 2011, dushyantdhari from Jammu,
India wrote:

This is used in Homeopathy for various ailments such as Epithelioma, lupus, ulcers, granular lids. Purulent conjunctivitis; Granular ophthalmia. Keratitis.


On Feb 12, 2011, wizodd from Menomonie, WI wrote:

Yes they're poisonous. About 100 times more toxic than ricin.

But they are also VERY tough seeds--no mammal is known that can swallow one whole and digest it--thus the warnings about crushing/drilling/grinding etc.

These are a type of seed which is designed to pass through bird crops intact but scarified in order to sprout. I can't be certain, but I doubt that your average adult could chew a seed w/o soaking it or breaking teeth...but I know of no tests. The plant is found around the world in the tropics.

The poison (abrin) is a pair of proteins, abrin-a which acts as a catalyst (doesn't get broken down in use,) which destroys the ability of the cell to create proteins. This protein (or very similar protein) is found in many other species. Witho... read more


On May 12, 2009, losmilagros from Loxahatchee, FL wrote:

This plant,like many members said,is dangerous.But,not only a regular poison plant.It is one of the more powerful poison plant with not any cure if ingested ,or crack and smell the powder or if you have wounded hands and penetrate your skin.
I can believe one seller ,FROM FLORIDA,offer this plant for sale.Some people don`t care about the health of another people,when can make some income in their side or just ignore the information about it.
The poison is LETHAL.
In others country's the mortal rate ,where this plant grow ,is very,very high.But doctors have not idea how to distinguish between the poison of this plant a... read more


On May 5, 2009, giftgas from Everson, WA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I don't have any experience growing this plant yet, but I will as soon as the sun stays out for more than 1 day a week.

Pictures don't do the seeds justice...the color is unreal - if I hadn't seen the seeds with my own eyes, I would swear up and down that they didn't come from a living plant.


On Mar 25, 2008, Parent from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

As a parent who's 6 year old brought back these deadly seeds from a neighbors front yard, I would insist that anyone thinking of planting this would think of the harm it could do. My daughter placed one of these bright and colorful seeds in her mouth. If she would have chewed it , she would be dead now. How can anyone consider planting them? Thank God she is okay, but we had a sleepless night worrying.


On Oct 26, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

My biology professor said that it is THE MOST poisonous seed in the plant kingdom, #2 is Ricinus communis. I have to admit that there exists a morbid novelty in growing these things ornamentally.


On Jul 23, 2005, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a very common and dangerous trash weed in Florida. IT SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED every way possible. I have found it growing on school grounds and near public buildings if there is a nearby field.


On Nov 7, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Rosary Pea or Crab's Eye is extremely invasive in Florida in the U.S. from zone 8b in the central part of the state southward! It can climb as a vine over shrubs, smothering them and preventing germination and smothering young native plants such as tree seedlings and shrubs! Also, the bright-red berries are extremely poisonous to people and can result in death if eaten - if not, cause serious sickness! This noxious invasive vine is also found in Hawaii where it is also a serious pest! It is now on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's Pest Plant List Category One and is regarded as a noxious, very invasive and poisonous/harmful weed in Hawaii!

MORE FACTS - Very invasive in natural habitats in Florida, such as pine flatwoods, fields as well as disturbed areas such as along ... read more


On Jun 15, 2004, TamiMcNally from Lake Placid, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Invasive, unattractive, thorny, and poisonous.

It is difficult to remove this plant. Seeds fall all over the ground and sprout easily. Seeds end up in nearby areas due to rain and wind.


On Dec 26, 2003, Clare_CA from Ventura,
United States (Zone 10b) wrote:

Someone sent me seeds of this plant, and I did some research before preparing to plant them. I decided not to sow these seeds after reading how poisonous the seeds are and how hazardous the plant is to animals and to people. Just one swallowed seed can be deadly. This is not a desirable plant for this reason.


On Oct 24, 2003, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is an invasive weed of natural areas in central Florida, as well as a weed in my garden. It will climb to to the treetops in a single year (note, height can be over 40 feet), and it is perfectly hardy in zone 9. I find seedlings in my garden beds, and pull them out, as well as cutting or pulling all the more mature plants I find. And, I don't find it particularly attractive.

Post-hurricane update (Dec. 2005) - After hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 brought down mature trees, opening up the ground to more light, this weed has become even more common. The seedlings send down deep taproots very quickly, and I have been pulling hundreds of them from my small native sandhill woodland area before they get a chance to climb the trees again.


On Oct 23, 2003, ford3728 from Homer, LA wrote:

This is a beautiful plant but it is very invasive and almost impossible to get rid of once established. The roots spread under ground and come up everywhere and for long distances. It also has sharp stickers all up and down the stems. It grows wild in Homer, Louisiana.


On Jul 15, 2003, mesoto from Crestview, FL wrote:

Rosary peas are so poisonous that the sharpened seeds are used as murder weapons in India.


On Oct 25, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Has narrow, oblong feather looking leaves.With pinkish -purple flowers. The seeds are round, and shiny red with a black eye. Seeds chewed or when cracked are extremely poisonous.The seeds are used for beads, sometimes made into necklaces and rosaries.The seeds need to be nicked and soaked in HOT water to get to germinate.