Abrus precatorius subsp. africanus Verdc. APNI*
Description: Woody twiner with stems to 10 m long. Stems with sparse white indumentum.
Leaves 14–34-foliolate; leaflets oblong, parallel-sided or slightly wider towards tip, rounded at both ends, 5–25 mm long, 3–8 mm wide, with sparse white indumentum; stipules 3–5 mm long, narrow and pointed, hairy, persistent; stipels 0.1–0.3 mm long.
Inflorescence a dense pseudoraceme; peduncle 3–8 cm long; rachis 1.5–5 cm long. Pedicels c. 1 mm long. Calyx shallowly lobed, c. 3 mm long, sparsely hairy. Standard c. 8 mm long, 6 mm wide, greenish white, purplish at margins; wings c. 12 mm long, white to pale pink; keel slightly longer than wings, white.
Pods 2–3.5 cm long, 12–15 mm wide, covered with short tubercule hairs, brown and woody when ripe; seeds 3–7, ellipsoidal, 5–7 mm long, 4–5 mm wide, shiny, black basally, scarlet to reddish brown distally, persistent on fruit for several months.
Flowering: Flowers in summer.
Distribution and occurrence: Naturalised, north from Brunswick Heads. Native of tropical and subtropical Afrcia and Indian Ocean Islands.
NSW subdivisions: *NC
The difference between subspecies can easliy be seen when the plant is in fruit, when looking at the surface and length of the pod. In Abrus precatorius subsp. precatorius the surface of the pods are smooth, with the pod length 3.1-4.3 cm long.; in Abrus precatorius subsp. africanus the pods have tuberculate hairs and pod length is 2-3.5 cm long.
Text by Updated by Louisa Murray Feb 2014
APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.