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Ricinus communis

Pronunciation: Ris-i-nus kom-yoo-nis
Family: Euphorbiaceae (spurge family)
Common Name: Castor bean, castor oil plant, palma christi, wonder tree
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 40'
Width to: 15'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The stems are watery juicy and reddish or purplish too. The inflorescence is not particularly showy; small, 0. 5 in (1 cm) wide greenish yellow flowers are borne in fat spikes 8-18" tall near the tops of the stems. Female flowers are on the top half of the spike and have conspicuous red stigmas (the parts that receive the pollen). The male flowers on the lower half of the spike have conspicuous yellow anthers (the parts that give off the pollen). The female flowers are followed by reddish brown egg-shaped capsules, about an inch long, thickly covered with soft flexible spines.
Propagation: Castor bean seeds germinate quickly, and the plants grow very fast. They can be expected to self sow under favorable conditions. Germination can be hastened if the seeds are soaked in water for 24 hours or nicked with a file before planting. Sow in place in zones 8-11. In areas with shorter growing seasons, or to get a head start, sow seeds indoors in individual containers 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost.
Notes for Identification: Most gardeners grow castor bean plants in small groups as specimen plants to create a tropical look. This is a large, coarse textured plant that grows very fast in a single season to fill in a big area or serve as temporary landscaping or quick screening. In frost free areas they are grown in large borders or allowed to naturalize in the back of the landscape. In frosty climates, the castor bean plant is the best way to create a tropical effect around the swimming pool or patiothe castor bean seed coat contains ricin, one of the most poisonous naturally occurring chemicals known to man; even very small doses can be fatal. Castor oil, derived from castor beans, is used extensively in medicine and in varnishes and paints, as a lubricant and lamp oil, and in many other industrial and manufacturing processes. The foul tasting laxative, castor oil, loathed by children everywhere, tastes poisonous but is, however, a valuable purgative still widely used in modern medicine. warningall parts of the castor bean plant are poisonous, and the seeds especially, are highly toxic. You should not grow castor beans where children play; the seeds are just too pretty and too deadly. Children have died from eating castor bean seeds. Plant info from: floridata
Located in: Seed Photos
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