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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: Could you tell me some more about the Castor Bean plant?


QUESTION:
I saw a program on The Discovery Chan. on the night of Wed. the 22nd that spoke of an untracable poison called Ryson of Rysen. On this program they stated that the KGB used it to assassinate 2 people back in the 50's or 60's. They said that this poison is extracted from the seeds from a plant that the the name started with a "C". I'm sorry but I did not write it down. They also stated that this was one of the most poisonous plants know. That one drop was strong enough to kill 200 people. At the same time they said that it is used as an ornamental plant in yards. It grows about 6 to 8 feet tall, has broad leaf about 1-1.5 feet in diam., and has a spiny sead pod at the base of each leaf stalk containing about 3 to seeds. I am trying to find out more about this plant because I have several of them in my yard. They were given to me a couple of years ago as "Mosquito Plants". The strong odor would keep small bugs away. Now that I saw this on TV, I am conserned about my children and 2 small dogs. Can you tell me what the name of this plant is, and where to find out more about it.

ANSWER:

Ricin is a protein toxin found in the Castor Bean plant (Ricinis communis). I have never heard of calling this plant a mosquito plant, and I do not recall a strong smell. Perhaps you should get a botanist to positively identify your plants before getting too excited about this.If you want to send me a picture of it or a couple of seeds or leaves, I might be able to identify it myself.