The Wonder Tree: Ricinus Communis (L.)

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The wonder tree, Ricinus communis (L.), is a shrub of the family of Euphorbiacea, with green to red leaves.[1] It is native in South Africa, but is widely naturalized and cultivated as crop-and decorative plant in many countries, spanning climates from tropical to mediate temperatures, for example India, South America and China.[2,3] The seeds of Ricinus communis (L.), also known as Castor Beans, are stored in the green, spikey fruits of the plant and are of brown colour, with greyish-white patterns, which often leads to a comparison of the seeds with ticks.[1,2] The castor beans contain one of the most potent and toxic natural poisons available, namely the glycoprotein ricin [1,4,5]. Despite this toxicity, the oil of the castor bean is widely…show more content…
From here the knowledge of the use of said oil spread to other regions: The use of castor oil is therefore also connected to other ancient cultures as for example Greece and Rome, where it was, 2500 BC, used as a laxative; in Iran castor bean oil was even used as a lamp fuel.[4,7] The industrial use of castor bean oil is appreciated up to this day, with India as the main supplier and the USA, China and the European Union as the main importers of castor oil. [3] It is still very popular due to its extensive possibilities of application. It is used for example as a cosmetic remedy, laxative, lubricant, in the rubber synthesis, as a biofuel and many more.[3,4]
In the late 19th century Peter Herman Stillmark, was the first to extract and detect the toxic plant protein from its mother plant, and named it Ricin, which it is known as today. He also noted that ricin leads among others to a agglutination of erythrocytes and the precipitation of serum proteins, which was later proven to be a result of a mixture between Ricin and another plant toxin agglutinin, that was extracted at the same time.

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