Saturday, August 13, 2011

Weed du Jour

The Castor Bean (also called the Castor Oil Plant).  A fairly common escapee from cultivation here in Southern and Central California.  I remember them in our back yard in my very first childhood home.  The Castor Bean provides Castor Oil, used for a variety of purposes, both medicinal and chemical, and is also the source of one of the natural worlds most toxic substances, ricin.  I remember breaking the spiny seed pods open to extract the mottled seeds, that look a bit like pinto beans, but more like engorged ticks.  Sometimes I think it's a miracle any of us survived childhood.

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