PANDANUS Project  
Abrus precatorius L. in Pandanus database of Indian plant names
 •  Pandanus Homepage  •  Database of Plants  •  Publications  •  Sanskrit E-texts  •  Seminar of Indian Studies  •
 

  Abrus precatorius L. details in Pandanus database of Indian plant names

Back to the list of plant names 

 
 Latin nameAbrus precatorius L.
 FamilyFabaceae
 Identified with (Skt)gu??jā
 Identified with (Hin)gu??c?, ratti, gu??cāc?
 Identified with (Ben)ratti, rati
 Identified with (Tam)kuntumani, karu?ku??i, ku??i, cika?ᚭikai, pava?akku??i
 Identified with (Mal)kunni
 Identified with (Eng)Jequirity, Indian liquorice, Wild liquorice
 Botanical infoA climber, pinnate leaves in many pairs, pink flowers, scarlet seeds containing the toxin abrin, grows all over India.
 Search occurrencein the Pandanus database of Sanskrit e-texts
 See plant's imageAbrus precatorius L. in Google image search
 Encyclopedias &
 Dictionaries

Dymock, Warden, Hooper: Pharmacographia Indica (vol. I, pp. 430-432)
Abrus precatorius, Leguminosae
Fig. - Jamaica Wild Liquorice, Jequirity (Eng.), Arbre a chapelets (Fr.)
This plant is mentioned by Su??ruta and the older Sanskrit writers, it must therefore have long been in use as a medicine among the Hindus; they describe two varieties, namely, red and white-seeded. The seeds are said to be poisonous, and are used internally in affections of the nervous system, and externally in skin diseases, ulcers, and as an application to fistulas to excite inflammatory action. The root is described as emetic. Examples of compound medicines containing the seeds, extracted from Sārangadhara, Chakradatta and the Bhavaprakasa will be found in Dutt's Hindu Materia Medica, p. 152. Mahometan writers under the name of Ain-ed-dik (cock's eye) describe the seeds, and state that they are hot and dry, tonic and aphrodisiac. Their use by gold-smiths as a weight is alluded to in the following well known Doha (couplet): - Sonā kahe sunar se, "uttum mhāri jāt - Kāle munh ki ghungehi, aur tule hamare sāth."
My rank is of the highest, said the gold to the gold-smith, shall I be weight against that black faced seed! Sloane, in 1700, appears to have been the first to suggest the use of Abrus root as a substitute for liquorice. Prosper Alpinus, who visited Egypt in 1592, only mentions the use of the seeds as beads, and states that they are sometimes eaten, but are very unwholesome; he calls the plant "abrus," a name probably of Coptic origin, but possibly derived from the Greek -*-, pretty. Greek and Latin writers do not mention any plant bearing this name. Dr. Burton Brown (Punjab Poisons) records a case in which 40 seeds of Abrus, administered internally, caused purging and vomiting, with symptoms of collapse and suppression of urine; the patient recovered under the use of stimulants.
In the Concan singers chew the leaves of the white-seeded variety as a remedy for hoarseness; they are also chewed with cubebs and sugar to cure aphthae of the mouth. In spermathorrhoea with bloody discharges, equal parts of the juice of white Abrus leaves and Henna leaves are rubbed with the root of Holostemma Rheedii, cumin, and sugar, and administered. Abrus seeds are said to have been used for centuries in Brazil as a popular remedy for granular lids and pannus, and attention was called to this practice in Europe in 1862, without apparently leading to any experiments with the drug. Ainslie says: - "This root, when dried, coincides so exactly with the liquorice root of the shops, that it is often sold for it in the bazaars in Bengal." Other writers repeat the same statement, one which we cannot confirm, as we consider the root to bear very little resemblance to liquorice either as regards appearance or qualities; as pointed out by Mr. Moid?n Sheriff, the leaves are by far the sweetest part of the plant, and from them a tolerable extract may be made, but in most parts of India, where true liquorice is obtainable in any quantity as an article of commerce, it would be much more expensive to collect them than to use liquorice.
The roots of Taverniera nummularia, and Alysicarpus longifolius, are sweet like liquorice, and are called liquorice by the Indian peasants.


 
(c) 1998-2009 Seminar of Indian Studies, Institute of South and Central Asia, Faculty of Arts, Charles University. Development of this database of Indian plant names was made possible by the generous funding of the Grant Agency of Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.