Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis (Castor bean)

A friend once asked me why I bothered growing castor beans. Well if not for the foliage, the architectural form, or those cute fuzzy seed pods, maybe it was just to make sure I got on a terrorist watchlist somewhere for being a regular purchaser of seed.

The plant is highly poisonous (hence deer-resistant) and the beans can be processed to make a very potent poison. (A local seed company reported a big sale of seed to some guy who turned out just to be disturbed, not dangerous.) From the Cornell poisonous plants website:

In 1978, ricin was used to assassinate Georgi Markov in 1978, a Bulgarian journalist who spoke out against the Bulgarian government. He was stabbed with the point of an umbrella while waiting at a bus stop near Waterloo Station in London. They found a perforated metallic pellet embedded in his leg that had presumably contained the ricin toxin.

Castor bean

Castor bean