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Gunja Kali

Gunja Kali (Abrus precatorius)

Abrus precatorius is a poisonous herb used in Ayurvedic medicines after detoxifying process. Its seeds and roots are used in treating hair fall, arthritis pain, as an aphrodisiac and more.

It is a sought after climber in the tropical and subtropical areas. In South Africa, it is distributed in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and some parts of the Limpopo Provinces. There are some species similar to it and this may cause confusion. Its leaves are consumed as a vegetable in central and east Africa. However, its seeds are very poisonous and can be dangerous to humans and animals if consumed with seeds.

The bead vine is economically and medicinally important. The plant secretes the toxin called abrin which is closely related to ricin. The symptoms of these toxins are severe stomach pains diarrhoea, nausea, cold sweat, drowsiness, colic and weak and fast pulse.