A Celebration of Flora Part 4

To make things even more interesting, RICIN plants do not just drop theirseeds. That would be inappropriate behavior. RICIN plants explosively eject their seeds. When one of these plants detonates its seed pod the noise is amazing and the projectiles dangerous. But be warned, if an average traveler, still in a sweat from avoiding a score of Border Patrol Agents, passes you when one of these seed pods detonates he will think it was you who were mean spiritedly attempting to delay his passage with gunfire. He may very well shoot you and the problem for you is that his bullets won’t bounce off like the ones from this seed pod.

We all are safe of course, because the possession of RICIN was made illegal under the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism act of 1989.

RICIN was first used during the Cold War to whack various Bulgarian “activists” who seemed to be broadcasting their differing views from the BBC’s radio station in London. In one case an umbrella was modified to shoot a microscopic ball filled with RICIN into the calf of the subject of interest. It really did work and the subject did die — slowly -- three days later.

The ricin molecule contains two main parts; one acts as the weapon, the other as a disguise.

If eaten, ricin causes gastroenteritis and hemorrhaging followed by failure of the liver, spleen, and kidneys. If inhaled, there is weakness, fever, cough, pulmonary edema, and death.

Three micrograms per kilogram of human bodyweight can be expected to kill about half the human population. That equates to a dose of about one fly speck for a 200 pound person.

Lastly, no one has — it seems — discussed the consequences of a fire in the Tijuana River Estuary and Border Field State Park. With all of this RICIN bursting from every leaf, stem, seed, and twig, being within ten miles of this place during a fire might prove a truly life altering experience (see “unexpected departure” above).