The origin, impact, and a mysterious umbrella-attack: How dangerous is Ricin

Ricin is considered to be one of the most dangerous poisons in the world. Particularly delicate is the poison that it is easy to use and easy to produce power. Not least because of the famous umbrella assassination in 1978, many stories have been told about the Ricin.

What exactly is the in Cologne arrested Tunisians with the on the Internet purchased Ricin had? The 29-Year-old with highly toxic Ricin in his apartment, the security agencies are, according to media reports, due to a striking Internet purchases encountered. According to information from the "Bild"-Newspaper of the 29th ordered-Year-old is also the ingredients for an explosive device. Obviously, the young man wanted to build investigators, according to a Ricin bomb. The poison, however, is brought up again and again in connection with terrorist incidents in connection.

Origin and dissemination of

The poison comes from the wonder tree (castor oil plant). In the vernacular of the tree is also called the Christ palm tree, dog-tree and lice tree. Originally, the Plant in North-East Africa and the Middle East is located, has spread in the meantime, but in all the tropical and temperate zones.


The color – and odorless poison, the seeds can act in humans in very small doses is lethal, and is therefore considered as one of the most dangerous poisons in the world. Ricin can paralyze the respiratory system. The toxic effect can be carried out according to the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI) orally, over the skin, the stomach and by inhalation. The incubation period is according to RKI, depending on the dose and the type of how to get the poison into contact – whether via the respiratory tract, the stomach or the skin. After oral ingestion, the first symptoms occur after a few hours, usually within 48 hours.

The Oil, derived from the poisonous castor seeds, by contrast, is non-toxic and is used in medicine and cosmetic products.

Terror-aspect: "Potentially biological Kampfstoff"

The prestigious Robert Koch Institute classifies the easily available Ricin from the seeds of the miracle tree as "potential biological Kampfstoff" a. Trading and dealing with the pure substance of the Convention in accordance with the chemical weapons from 1997 limited. In low concentration of Ricin can be fatal. The poison should be injected, it acts according to the RKI information within 36 to 48 hours to be fatal.

Even if the poison is always in connection with bioterrorism, emphasizing the RKI: "The possibilities for a large-scale use of Ricin appear, however, rather limited because when used in aerosol form, extremely large quantities would be necessary in order to achieve a comprehensive effect." Dangerous the poison is, but still. This is mainly due to the fact that it is easy to produce and available and easy.

Legendary umbrella assassination with Ricin

A well-known case in which it came to an attack with Ricin, the death of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov. The writer was killed in 1978 in London by the so-called umbrella-attack. The BBC employed the exile-the Bulgarian was on 7. September 1978, by a passer-by with an umbrella in the leg has been stung. In the screen tip of a bead stuck with the poison Ricin.

Worldwide, there are three people with an anti-Ricin immune. One of them is a man from Münster, which is due to a metabolic defect, immune to the poison.