Gidgee Gidgee (species: Abrus precatorius) in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Abrus precatorius
Gidgee Gidgee

©Anne Hoggett: Abrus precatorius seeds in pod at Lizard Island Research Station, Oct 2018.

©Anne Hoggett: Seeds and leaves of Abrus precatorius at Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Poisonous red and black seeds of Abrus precatorius at Lizard Island
Kingdom Plantae
Division Tracheophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Fabales
Family Fabaceae
Genus Abrus
Species Abrus precatorius



Distinguishing features

This slender climbing plant is usually noticed due to its shiny, bright red seeds each with a large black spot at the end. The seeds are extremely poisonous if chewed and swallowed (see below). The leaves are pinnate with up to 15 pairs of leaflets. Pale lavender pea-flowers form in clusters and develop into brown pods that contain the seeds. 


  • Size data has not been obtained.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Common in woodland areas

Web resources


  • usually fatal - Seeds are extremely poisonous if chewed and eaten. However, the seed coat is very hard and a seed swallowed whole would probably pass through the body without harm. Don't try it!


References that assist with identification

  • Cribb, A.B. and J.W. Cribb (1985). Plant life of the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent shores University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

Other references

  • De Sloover, J.R. and M. Dufrene (1999). Flora and vegetation of Turtell V, Turtell Islands Group (Queensland, Australia), Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg./ Bull. Nat. Plantentuin Belg., 67: 45-97. LIRS catalog number 577.
  • De Sloover, J.R. and A.-L. Jacquemart (2008). Nymph Island (Great Barrier Reef, Qld., Australia): Flora and vegetation of a low wooded island, Scripta Botanica Belgica, 43: 1-88. LIRS catalog number 1210.
  • View all references