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The Impressive Castor Oil Plants Of The Van Westerhout Cittadini Molesi Cultural and Social Club On Court Street


Carroll Gardens has changed tremendously over the last few years as the Italian population that once thrived in the neighborhood slowly passed away or moved to other parts of the City or country. It is therefore always a thrill to see that some things have remained the same.

One example is the lovely yard next to the Van Westerhout Cittadini Molesi Cultural and Social Club on Court Street at the corner of Fourth Place. For as long as we can remember, the garden has been beautifully planted every spring and summer. Surrounding a Madonna protected under a white cupola and a flag pole with an Italian flag and an American flag, a profusion of marigold, begonias, dalias, and cleome bloom throughout the season


But nothing rivals the tall Castor Oil Plants, also known as “Palm of Christ”, that grow against the fence of the garden. Grown from seeds in the spring by one of the members of the club, these castor plants reach their full height by September and October. Amongst the waxy leaves, little red, fuzzy blooms appear on top of the tall stalks.

The plant’s biological name is Ricinus Communis and is native to the Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa and India.
For centuries, castor oil from the plant’s seed has been used as a natural laxative, a contraceptive, a  lubricant,  to induce labor and many other medicinal uses.
But the seeds also contain ricin, a deadly water-soluble protein called a lectin ” which, if ingested, causes clumping and breakdown of red blood cells, hemorrhaging in the digestive tract, and damage to the liver and kidneys.According to Encyclopedia.com: ” Gram for gram, ricin is 6,000 times more deadly than cyanide and 12,000 times more deadly than rattlesnake venom.”
Therefore Ricinus communis is classified as the most poisonous plant on earth for humans

Their seeds may be deadly, but the plants sure are pretty.

Since then, it has become one of the only few remaining Italian clubs in Carroll Gardens.
It is nice to see that its members still congregate there and that they still plant flowers in the garden each year.

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