seeds (Ricinus)

David W. Kramer kramer.8 at OSU.EDU
Tue Mar 24 11:23:09 EST 1998

>Thanks to all who responded to my request for a good demo seed.  I received
>several suggestions recommending pine seeds, which show a papery remnant of
>the nucellus underneath the seed coat.  The seed of Ricinus was also
>recommended as easy to dissect, and useful for revealing various structures
>after staining the cut surface with fast green.  I appreciate your help!
>Kathleen Archer

Kathleen, et al.:

Several sources (e.g., Magic and Medicine of Plants) report that castor
beans (Ricinus) are poisonous.  Years ago at Indiana University we
dissected castor beans in general botany labs as an example of a seed in
which the endosperm is not absorbed until the time of germination ( in
contrast to garden bean, etc.).  We stopped doing that when we were told
that the poison in the seeds could even be absorbed through the skin!
Before you ask students to dissect them, you might want to investigate this

Please post what you find to Plant-Ed.  I often see this plant in botanical
gardens and other public plantings as an ornamental.  Granted it is very
attractive but I always wonder why they would be put in a public place
where children might ingest the seeds.  If someone will tell me they are
not poisonous, I'll stop worrying!

Dr. David W. Kramer
Department of Plant Biology
Ohio State University at Mansfield
1680 University Drive
Mansfield, OH  44906-1547
(419) 755-4344  FAX:  (419) 755-4367
e-mail:  kramer.8 at

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