Friday, July 23, 2010
Seedlings of a bronze-red Ricinis communis, or castor bean. It's not a true bean, but it is a sometimes re-seeding annual relative of poinsettia and other Euphorbia. And yes, it is the source of castor oil once forced on youngsters to treat various maladies (ask your grandmother!) and still used in paints and varnishes.
Oil comes from the bean-like seeds, but the seed coat contains ricin, a poisonous aklaloid, and the leaves cause contact dermatits in sensitive individuals: this plant is one bad dude! It's harmless if you don't touch it...so don't touch it and definitely don't eat it! For heaven's sake, don't eat any plant at The Gardens! The harmful ones aren't labeled, so as not to scare the public off!
-Fred Spicer, Executive Director
Posted by Birmingham Botanical Gardens at 3:04 PM