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Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1


Abrus fruticulosus Wight & Arn.

This article should be read together with the article on the genus: Abrus in the Handbook volume indicated above in this database.


Prod. Fl. Penins. Ind. Or. 1: 236 (1834).


Abrus melanospermus Hassk. (1844), Abrus pulchellus Wallich ex Thwaites (1859).

Vernacular Names

Indonesia: saga areuy, areuy si hayam (Sundanese), daun sambang (Javanese). Malaysia: saga negri, akar kachang inai (Peninsular). Thailand: ma klam phueak (Chiang Mai), kho kiu (Chanthaburi), ma khaam yaan (Trang). Vietnam: k[ee] c[oos]t th[ar]o.


Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, China, Thailand and Malesia (with certainty in Peninsular Malaysia, Java, Borneo, the Philippines, Sulawesi and New Guinea).


The roots are used to treat digestive disorders. The leaves are employed to sweeten traditional medicines used in the central regions of Thailand. The stems have been used to tie together materials in harbour works.


A prostrate subshrub or woody climber up to 6 m long; leaves with (10-)12-34 oblong, obovate-oblong or ovate leaflets, truncate to broadly rounded and mucronulate at apex; inflorescence comparatively slender, usually straight, flowers in clusters on cushion-like reduced branchlets; fruit oblong to linear-oblong, compressed, 4-12-seeded; seeds usually strongly compressed, greyish-brown to reddish-brown, sometimes speckled. Abrus fruticulosus is extremely polymorphic and often subdivided into several separate species and subspecies. It occurs in roadsides, along streams, in thickets and edges of lowland rain forest up to 1000 m altitude.

Selected Sources

[202] Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240. Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.
[262] Chuakul, W., Saralamp, P., Jiratchariyakul, W. & Supratrarawanich, P., 1994. Specification of Thai medicinal plant: Abrus fruticulosus Wall. ex Wight & Arn. Thai Journal of Phytopharmacy 1(1): 17-25.
[451] Fullas, F., Choi, Y.-H., Kinghorn, A.D. & Bunyapraphatsara, N., 1990. Sweet-tasting triterpene glycoside constituents of Abrus fruticulosus. Planta Medica 56(3): 332-333.
[580] Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesiƫ [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, 's-Gravenhage, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 1660 + CCXLI pp.
[1519] Verdcourt, B., 1970. Studies in the Leguminosae-Papilionoideae for the 'Flora of Tropical East Africa': II. Kew Bulletin 24(2): 235-307.
[1520] Verdcourt, B., 1979. A manual of New Guinea legumes. Botany Bulletin No 11. Office of Forests, Division of Botany, Lae, Papua New Guinea. 645 pp.


R.H.M.J. Lemmens & F.J. Breteler

Correct Citation of this Article

Lemmens, R.H.M.J. & Breteler, F.J., 1999. Abrus fruticulosus Wight & Arn.. In: de Padua, L.S., Bunyapraphatsara, N. and Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

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