Name: Gidgee Gidgee
Scientific Classification: Abrus precatorius
Alternative Names: Jequirity, Crab’s Eye, Rosary Pea, John Crow Bead, Precatory bean, Indian Licorice, Akar Saga, or Jumbie Bead
This climbing plant lives on trees, shrubs and hedges and is well known for its legumes. Once the pod has dried, it opens to reveal several bright red seeds. These can be used as beads and in percussion instruments, but they are definitely not for consumption. The seeds are poisonous due to the presence of abrin, one of the most toxic compounds known. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, liver failure and death – possibly after several days. A single seed can kill a human – even a pin prick worth can be fatal. Aboriginal women with an unwanted pregnancy would often risk their lives with this bush abortion pill.
We saw one plant while exploring Lorella Springs. Dave spotted the pretty, bright red beads at the base of Monarch Rock. We knew what they were straight away because we’d seen them on the Bush Tuckerman show. After admiring them for a few minutes, we agreed to definitely not eat them and left them right where we found them.