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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: I need some information about the Rosary Pea for a book...


QUESTION:
I am writing to inquire about the Plant listed on your page as the Rosery Pea (Abrus Precatorius) In doing research for a novel I was looking on the internet for poisonous plants and came across your page. I seem to have all of the information I need about it's origin and the affects that it would have on humans if ingested, but I was wondering if you weren't too awfully busy if you could answer a few quick questions for me. And no I'm not going to kill my husband. But my character is going to kill hers. So what I need to know is how long this 'seed' would take to do it's business. Would he be ill for days or would the effects be relatively quick?

ANSWER:

If eaten, it takes time for the intestinal tract to be destroyed and the the subject would be very ill and get sicker as time went on.
QUESTION:
Is there a test to detect the toxin Abrin or an antitoxin?

ANSWER:

The army is working on an antitoxin and a test could be developed, but don't know if one has been made commercially available.
QUESTION:
Shall I have him rushed to the hospital,

ANSWER:

If he knows he has been poisoned with something deadly.
QUESTION:
only to be diagnosed with the flu and then kick the bucket later in his sleep? Or shall I leave him at the kitchen table with his face in his plate?

ANSWER:

I don't think it would work that fast and if it is boiled in soup, the protein lectin responsible might well be denatured and rendered less harmful, but I would not bet my life on it.
QUESTION:
Kidding of course, but this information would help me to understand which direction to take. One more thing. These plants are only in Canada?

ANSWER:

Only as house plants. They are found in Mexico and South. I don't think they grow outdoors in most of the US, much less the Great White North.
QUESTION:
But if they are used for houseplants, I suppose a person in the states could order one from a gardening magazine?

ANSWER:

Doubtful.