The cure for your aches and pains!  Just be careful as to how you use it!


Fun Facts

Here are a bunch of fun facts in case you just didn't get enough from the other pages! 

Some odds and ends of the castor bean!

The leaves are large, palmately lobed, have 8 points, are slightly serrated and have very large central veins.  The seeds are contained in prickly or smooth three membered capsules, also known as the fruit.  Each capsule contains their own seed.  Seed size is known to be between 450 to 5,000 seeds per pound.  In the commercial industry they are more commonly 1,000 to 1,500 seeds per pound.  Seed color varies from plant to plant and can be white, gray, yellow, brown, red or black.  The seed itself also has a pattern on it that can be brown, black or gray and they can be splotchy or fine spots.  Each seed contains between 40% and 60% oil that has triglycerides, specifically ricinolein.  The colors of the leaves can be green or a brownish red.  The flowers are typically green but other varieties have different colors such as red and pink.  The plant’s stamens tend to stay near the bottom and the pistils (female reproductive part of flower) near the top.  There are no petals on the plant and the female flower, which lie above the male flowers, consist of a little spiny ovary which develops into the fruit or seed capsule.  Interested in learning about a flower that has petals?  Learn about the rose here.

The inside of the castor bean itself is very unique.  Unlike a lot of other seeds the castor bean doesn't have an apical meristem below the cotyledons.  The apical meristem is the foundation for all tissues in a plant.  The cotyledons, after fertilization, can turn into the first leafs of the plant.  Want to learn more about cotyledons?  Go here to expand your knowledge!!

Ricin: The castor beans deadly toxin!

The castor bean also includes a deadly toxin called ricin.  When ricin enters the body it prevents the cells from producing the proteins they need.  Without these specific proteins the cells cannot function and they die.  If this cell death is wide spread enough it can lead to the organism dying. 

The toxin is released when the beans are chewed or crushed.  If the beans are ingested it can lead to pain of the skin and eyes, profuse vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration, weakness, fever, myalgia, arthralgia, hallucinations, seizures, hematuria, hypotension, hypovolemic shock, multiply system organ failure and death!!  It is said that three seeds contain enough ricin to kill a child and that 7 seeds can kill an adult.  

Between November of 1969 and January of 1970 about 10,000 ducks died in Texas.  Autopsies of the ducks revealed castor beans in their stomachs.  The castor oil plant has been known to contribute to large numbers of casualties annually.

During the 1940’s the U.S. military experimented with ricin testing for the possibility for use as a warfare agent.  However, there were never any reported cases of the military using it as a weapon.  Ricin was used as a weapon in the 1980’s in Iraq and more recently by terrorist organizations!

But don't worry if you know someone who has been poisoned by ricin.  Ricin poisoning isn’t contagious therefore it cannot be spread by casual contact.

In 1978 a Bulgarian writer named Georgi Markov was attacked by a man with an umbrella.  The umbrella had been modified to inject a ricin pellet under the journalists skin.  He died three days later from the poison!  Want more information about Georgi Markov?  Check out this awesome PBS article found here!

Want to learn more about ricin?  Go to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage here!

I also wrote a paper on the history of the castor bean in America.  If you are interested you can read it here!

Want to know the sources used?  Then head to the References section! 

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