Three-chambered seed pods typical of the plant family; Peter's Canyon Regional Park, Irvine, CA 5-21-06. © Joan Avise

Castor-bean

Ricinis communis

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Found in disturbed places; Peter's Canyon Regional Park, Irvine, CA 5-21-06. © Joan Avise

Male flowers and buds beneath red female flowers; Peter's Canyon Regional Park, Irvine, CA 5-21-06. © Joan Avise

Male flower buds beneath red female flowers; Peter's Canyon Regional Park, Irvine, CA 5-21-06. © Joan Avise

Seed pods. Aliso Canyon, Aliso Viejo, Orange County, CA. 09-23-11. © Peter J. Bryant

The beans contain the protein ricin, one of the most toxic materials known. The lethal dose for humans is equivalent to the contents of about eight beans. The beans are also the source of castor oil, which is used as a laxative and for other purposes. Aliso Creek at 2nd St., Mission Viejo, 9-05-13. © Ron Vanderhoff