Ricinus communis plant

Ricinus communis plant
Source: Carl Lewis

Ricinus communis or Castor Bean is a striking shrub with big 5 to 10 lobed leaves, green or crimson, and bright red inflorescence.

Very fast growing, may be used in borders or as solitary, even in pot.

Originally from tropical Africa, has spread all over the world where the climate was favourable. Is grown as an annual in temperate climate.

Very easy to sow and grow Ricinus communisbut be very careful: this plant is highly toxic in all its parts, mainly in the beans which may be swallowed by children or animals. 3-4 beans are a lethal dose to children or animals.


Ricinus communis is a fast growing shrub that can grow up to 10 m. Grown as an annual, it grows up to 1-1.5 m high.

The shiny leaves are 15-45 cm long, on a long petiole, alternately placed and palmate with 5-12 deep lobes with coarsely toothed segments. The leaf color ranges from green to burgundy, dark purple or bronze depending on the breed.

The inflorescence is a terminal panicle whose color ranges from green to bright red. The plant is monoecious. Male flowers are yellow-green with prominent cream colored stamens, female flowers have prominent red stigmas. Flowering occurs throughout the summer.

The fruit is a spiny, greenish to reddish-purple capsule with large, oval, shiny, beany and very poisonous seeds with variable brownish spots.


The beans are used for production or castor oil. Is tested as bio-fuel.

Ricinus communis fruit capsules

Fruit capsules



Cataputia major, Cataputia minor, Croton spinosus, Ricinus africanus, Ricinus angulatus, Ricinus armatus, Ricinus atropurpureus, Ricinus badius, Ricinus borboniensis, Ricinus cambodgensis

Common names:

Castor Oil Plant, Castor, Castor Bean, Castor Oil Plant, Castor-Bean, Castor-Oil-Plant, Castorbean, Mole Bean, Palma-Christi, Ricin, Wonder Tree


Ricinus: from the Latin ricinus (tick)
Communis: from the Latin comoenus (common, general)


Tropical Africa


USDA zone 9-11, 0 °C



Nutritious, quickly exhausts the soil




Water regularly, is drought tolerant


Needs copious doses of fertilizer

Ricinus communis seeds




Sowing instructions:

  • soak for 1 day
  • sow in light mix
  • 20-25 °C
  • germination: 2 to 3 weeks