Ricinus Seeds - Castor Bean
Disclaimer: The Castor Bean plant (Ricinus communis) is highly toxic and should be handled with extreme caution. All parts of the plant, especially the seeds, are poisonous and can be fatal if ingested, inhaled, or come into contact with broken skin. This plant is not recommended for homes with children, pets, or livestock.
- Seed Count: 7 seeds
- Maturity Date: 90-120 days after planting
- Plant Height: 8-12 feet
- Leaf Color: Green to reddish-purple
- Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade
- Soil Requirements: Well-drained, moderately fertile soil
- Cold Hardiness: Tender perennial, best in Zones 9-11
- Additional Warning: Highly toxic; handle with extreme care
History: The Castor Bean plant, scientifically known as Ricinus communis, is native to Eastern Africa and the Mediterranean basin but is now cultivated in various parts of the world. It has a long history of both utilitarian and ornamental use. The plant's seeds are the source of castor oil, which has numerous industrial and medicinal applications. However, it's crucial to note that the seeds themselves are extremely poisonous and can be lethal if ingested, inhaled, or even touched.
Uses: Although the Castor Bean plant has ornamental value due to its bold foliage and spiky seed pods, it's primarily grown for the production of castor oil. The oil is used in various products like lubricants, soaps, and cosmetics. It's also used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory and laxative properties. However, due to the extreme toxicity of the seeds, the oil must be carefully extracted and processed to remove the poisonous compounds. This plant should not be grown in areas accessible to children, pets, or livestock, and any production of castor oil should be left to professionals.
Growth Habit and Planting Instructions: Ricinus communis is a fast-growing, tender perennial that can reach heights of 8-12 feet. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained, moderately fertile soil. To plant, sow the seeds 1 inch deep in pre-moistened soil, spacing them about 3 feet apart. Keep the soil consistently moist until germination, which typically occurs within two to three weeks. Once established, the plant is relatively drought-tolerant. However, given its toxicity, extreme caution should be exercised at all stages of planting, growth, and maintenance. Always wear gloves when handling the plant and keep it out of reach of children and animals.