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FLIP

FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Abrus precatorius

Common Name(s): Rosary pea, blackeyed susan, crab's eye

Origin

India, and perhaps other parts of tropical Asia.

Ecological Impact

Has invaded undisturbed pinelands, scrub, and hammocks, including the globally imperiled pine rocklands of Miami-Dade County. Can shade out rare plants and displace native Florida. Listed as a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.

Description

High-climbing, twining, or trailing woody vine with slender herbaceous branches. Leaves alternate, petioled, 5-13 cm (2-5 in) long, even-pinnately compound with 5-15 pairs of leaflets, these oval to oblong, to 1.8 cm (< 1 in) long, with margins entire. Flowers shaped like pea flowers, white to pink or reddish, small, in short stalked dense clusters at leaf axils. Fruit a short, oblong pod, splitting before falling to reveal 3-8 shiny hard seeds, 6-7 mm (< 1 in) long, scarlet with black bases.

Identification Tips

The seeds are small, brilliant red with a black spot. These characteristics give the plant one of its common names, crab’s eye. Another key identifying characteristic is the lack of a terminal leaflet on the compound leaves.

History

Introduced as an ornamental prior to 1932.

Range

Found throughout central and southern Florida.

Management Strategies

Do not plant. Monitor regularly and remove seed pods if possible. Site must be revisited several times to pull seedlings. Triclopyr amine or glyphosate can be applied to the foliage at 3-5% or 1-3%, respectively. Timing of application is critical to effectiveness; with applications in the fall prior to seed set being the most effective.

Photos

Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants