They grow well over 9 feet in height and resemble a Japanese Maple. Beautiful foliage and a architectural stance lends itself to a modern focal point in any landscape. I will be removing it from my property tomorrow. Not too long ago I found out that the seeds contained within the ‘horton hears a who’ pod are toxic to animals and humans. The seed look like a variegated black-eyed pea. It only takes one ingested seed to kill an infant or family pet. 4 to 5 will kill an adult human.
Castor Bean Plants (Ricinus communis), United States National Botanical Garden, Washington, DC, 2015.
This attractive annual plant, originally domesticated for medicinal purposes, has also been widely used for landscaping due to its attractive summer and autumn foliage. This example was part of an exhibit of landscaping suitable to the mid-Atlantic states. Its fruit the castor bean, source of the notorious castor oil, can also be processed to yield the deadly poison ricin.
Castor beans, the seed of the Ricinus communis plant, aren’t actually beans, but they’re close enough that the name stuck. Ricinus communis produces castor oil, which is used for a wide variety of medical uses: a laxative, a skin conditioner, and an antibacterial/antimicrobial agent are just a few of its many jobs.
The bean, though? Well, it’s pretty good for killing political dissidents.
What is this fascinating plant? When a visitor asked me about it this morning, I didn’t have a clue. After consulting Bright Spots, I now know it’s Castor Bean (Ricinus communis). It’s in the Healing Garden because Castor oil extracted from the seeds finds its way into many drugstore products, but the “beans” are toxic in their natural form & shouldn’t be touched. Its bright stems & pom-pom flowers invite closer inspection. ~Victoria, Membership
Just planted two castor bean plants, from which you get both castor oil and ricin, in an open area where I can keep an eye on ‘em. This’ll be nightmare fuel for days.
Kinda surprised that the nursery I got them from, which is a pretty reputable place that’s gotten big in the area marketing organic gardening classes and selling chickens and that sort of wholesome thing…not only didn’t keep them behind glass in a locked cabinet like aerosol spray paint in the art store, but didn’t even mention anywhere on the label or the sign that these little guys were “THE WORLD’S MOST POISONOUS PLANT”.
Of course, that last is A. from USA Today and B. from 2006 and the angle they were pushing was terrorists are coming for your landscape plants. On a more reasonable note, the seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant, and you can avoid having to worry about those by just deadheading the spent flowers rather than allowing them to develop into pods. (Still pretty horrifying to read the castor bean section on, I think, Dave’s Garden, with at least one person asking what they should do if they wanted to make lotion from the deadly seeds, should they just, you know, mash up these seeds in a blender? WTF NO DON’T DO THAT.)
Castor Bean Plant (Ricinus communis), US National Botanical Garden, Washington, DC July 2015.
The castor bean is a popular and showy decorative garden plant, but its fruit (the castor bean) is poisonous and is the raw material for ricin, a deadly toxin. It must be one of the easiest toxins to produce given the ubiquity of the raw material. The FBI has a team working on that substance and its actual and potential criminal use.
Poison has always been a long-standing friend and accomplice of the assassin, but none are more recognized as such like the infamous Castor Bean plant. This plant has made head way in both the entertainment industry and conspiracy theory sector. It draws the attention of the FBI, RCMP and the average home gardener. With showy red or green leaves and irresistible red seedpods this native Albertan plant contains ricin and oh goodness is it dangerous.
It is said to be used in terrorist and assassination attempts but do not fear as the only way for the poison to take full effect is for it to be careful extracted from the seeds of the plant and then infected directly into the victims blood stream.
In this embroidery (4 x 4 ft) which is featured on found upholstery fabric and embellished with discarded threads plays off of the idea of the assassin’s choice of murder weapon.