Deciduous climber growing to 12 ft (4 m). Has compound leaves, clusters of pink flowers, and seed pods containing scarlet or (rarely) white seeds.
Habitat & Cultivation
Jequirity is native to India, and now grows in hedges and among bushes in all tropical regions.
Root, leaves, seeds.
Jequirity seeds contain abrin, indole alkaloids, triterpenoid saponins, and anthocyanins. The root and leaves contain glycyrrhizin and traces of abrin. Abrin is extremely toxic.
History & Folklore
Jequirity seeds have been used since ancient times in India to help weigh precious materials, including the famous Koh-i-noor diamond. The seeds are notorious as a poison.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Jequirity seeds have been used medicinally in the past as a contraceptive, abortifacient (to induce a miscarriage), and as a treatment for chronic conjunctivitis. However, they are so poisonous that even external application can be fatal. In laboratory experiments, extracts of the seeds had a strong anti-fertility effect on sperm production and fertility. The ground root is traditionally taken to treat worm infestation.
Never use the seeds. Use the leaves and roots only under professional supervision. Jequirity is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.