Mike Dana, Department of Horticulture, Purdue University
Recently, the compound ricin has been in the news related to global terrorism
(see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2637515.stm) Ricin is extracted from the
beans (seeds) of the castor bean (Ricinus communis) which is also the source
of castor oil (see: http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/ricin/ricin.html).
As these illustrations show, castor bean is also a wonderful, exotic looking ornamental. In this case, it is the cultivar Carmencita, photographed at Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio in August 2002. Let us hope that the current focus on terrorism doesn't result in a plant ban that eliminates this excellent plant from our summer annual plant palette.
Click on the small image to view a larger image.
Carmencita Castor Bean
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