Two subspecies are found in Australia. Abrus precatorius subsp. precatorius: surface of pods smooth; pod length [longer] 31-43 mm – widespread in Malesia and northern Australia, south to about Rockhampton. Abrus precatorius subsp. africanus: surface of pods tuberculate (visible with naked eye); pod length (shorter) 20-35 mm – confined to southern Queensland (Miriam Vale to Brisbane) and perhaps NSW (introduced). It is native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, naturalised in Australia, New Caledonia, South America and the Caribbean. It is regarded as a serious invasive weed in some parts of the USA.
One damaged seed can, if eaten, cause severe eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, trembling and cold sweat, weakness and collapse. Sound (undamaged) seed passes apparently harmlessly through when ingested, but this is not to be attempted. Many seeds chewed would easily kill adults.
Key to Abrus (Fabaceae) in Australia by Tony Bean (2005) based on A Key to Abrus in Africa by Verdcourt (1970). Verdcourt, B. 1970. Studies in the Leguminosae-Papilionoideae for Flora of Tropical East Africa, II. Kew Bulletin 24: 235-307.