Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Abrus precatorius L.

Frost tender deciduous climber, the leaves consisting of numerous pairs of oblong leaflets, and red to pale purple, rarely white, flowers in spring, followed by oblong pods, to 6cm long.  To 3.5m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

The scarlet and black seeds have been used as beads for Rosaries.  The acrid resins from the roots were used medicinally as a demulcent.  The seeds, each weighing one carat, were used for centuries to weigh gold.  [EB, Don].  Introduced to Britain in 1680.  [PD].   Figured as a line drawing in Flora Fluminensis vol.7 t.98/1827.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.3/1850].


Published Feb 15, 2009 - 04:42 PM | Last updated Jul 18, 2010 - 03:43 PM

The figure is a line drawing of wiry stem, leaves and seed pods.  Flora Fluminensis vol.7 t.98, 1827.

Abrus precatorius L. | Flora Fluminensis vol.7 t.98/1827 | BHL

Family Fabaceae
Region of origin


Common Name

Rosary pea, Weather plant, Crab?s eye plant, Indian licorice, Jequitry prayer beads

Name in the Camden Park Record

Abrus precatorius 

Confidence level high