Answer to the Front Page Picture of the Week Question
for Sept 21st - Sept 29th, 2005
This is Ricinus communis, or castor-bean.
Hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11,
castor-beans can become noxious self-seeding annuals that are difficult to control
even in colder zones. The deep red capsule shown here (inset) holds three seeds. The seed
coats contain a poison called ricin, as little as one milligram can kill an adult.
Therefore, it is strongly suggested that this plant is kept away from children.
Castor oil is pressed from the seed and used to make a variety of products; medicines,
paints, lamp oil, and varnishes. You can view this castor-bean in the
National Herb Garden.