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Updated: 03/14/2014 08:00:03AM

What’s green and can kill you?

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Would it concern you to learn that the world’s most poisonous plant is growing wild in your neighborhood? What if I told you that this plant can grow from a seed into a 10-foot mature plant in a single warm season, and that a single plant can produce a thousand or more seeds in its first year of growth? And that if it doesn’t get killed to the ground by frost, it can grow to 20 feet high and produce thousands of seeds annually?

Well, I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that the plant is here, and becoming more abundant every year. It’s the castor oil plant, and while the plant itself is harmless, its seeds are the source of ricin, one of the deadliest known toxins. The good news is that it’s hard to poison someone with the unprocessed seeds, and even harder to purify the ricin into a usable poison.

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