of the valley
The castor oil plant
has large palm-shaped leaves with 7-9 portions, cluster-like blossoms and
prickly fruits, each carrying 3 seeds. All parts are poisonous, especially
Castor beans affect all
animals and humans. Even one of them may be sufficient to cause death.
They contain some of the strongest toxins of our planets flora: the alkaloid
ricinin and the toxalbumin ricin, the latter being a plant lectin, or protein,
more toxic even than strychnos and cyanides. What is more, it has the ability
to accumulate in the organism until the lethal dose is reached. The symptoms
then are nausea and vomiting, stomachache, bloody diarrhea, headache, cold
sweat, sleepiness, disorientation, fever, shortage of breath, seizures,
followed by a collapse and death.
tree comes from Ethiopia in Africa and is now spread in the tropic and
subtopic zones of Africa and Asia.
||It is also cultivated in
many other countries as an ornamental annual plant 1-2 m high. In the U.S.A.,
it also grows in waste areas and roadsides.
50-70% of its seed content
is thick fatty oil, which contains vitamins A and Dthe so-called castor
oil. It has been used as a purgative in medicine since ancient times. After
heat treatment, castor oil is a good food source for cattle.