Castor beans are one of the most popular edible legumes in the world. They are native to South America and have been cultivated there since prehistoric times. Today they are grown throughout much of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. There is no shortage of varieties available; however, it seems that only two species (Solanum vulgare var. acutifolium and S. latissimus) are used commercially in North America. Both species produce pods with the same shape, but different colors: red and black respectively.
The two species differ greatly in their nutritional value. The red variety contains higher levels of vitamin C than the black variety, while the black variety contains less iron than the red variety. These differences make them useful ingredients for making foods like soups and sauces that require high amounts of iron or calcium, such as cheese curds or yogurt.
However, these benefits come at a price. While both types contain the same amount of protein per pod, the red variety contains up to twice as much mercury as the black variety. Mercury is known to cause reproductive problems in humans and animals when consumed in large quantities. Also, because of its toxicity, it’s not surprising that many countries have banned its use in food products altogether.
How do you get rid of your castor bean plants?
In most parts of the world, it is perfectly legal to plant, sell, and buy castor bean seeds. Some countries, like Australia, have banned the sale of the plants but not their seeds. Others have banned neither the plant nor its seeds. It all depends on where you live.
Sources & references used in this article:
A mechanism of conversion of fat to carbohydrate in castor beans by HL Kornberg, H Beevers – Nature, 1957 – Springer
Use of castor bean, Ricinus communis, for the introduction of the thrips predator Amblyseius degenerans on glasshouse-grown sweet peppers by PMJ Ramakers, SIP Voet – … -FACULTEIT LANDBOUWKUNDIGE EN …, 1995 – library.wur.nl
productivity of castor beans (Ricinus communis L.) by PV Kumar, YS Ramakrishna, BVR Rao… – Agricultural and …, 1997 – researchgate.net