Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Castor Bean, Caster Oil Plant, Mole Bean, Higuera Infernal
Ricinus communis

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Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ricinus (RISS-i-nus) (Info)
Species: communis (KOM-yoo-nis) (Info)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

44 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Category:
Annuals
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Red

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:
Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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Profile:

17 positives
14 neutrals
8 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral longjonsilverz On Jul 26, 2013, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

I didn't expect this plant to return after winter here in Eastern Maryland, (zone 7) but it has been possibly both root hardy and/or reseeding every year now for at least 3 years. This is also after I removed the original plant. I now have multiple castor bean plants showing up around the area. Its not a big problem here, but I assume if you live in a slightly warmer area, this plant can be somewhat of a weed, not to mention the fact that it is poisonous too. However, if you're responsible and don't mind the extra maintenance, then this makes for a great fast growing tropical looking tree.

Neutral Garden_Isle_Dave On Dec 19, 2008, Garden_Isle_Dave from Kapaa, HI wrote:

This stuff grows all over the place here in Hawaii, mostly the roadsides and other disturbed areas. I yank it whenever it sprouts in the yard, grows fast!

"Castor beans don't kill people....people kill people."
~Garden_Isle_Dave

Positive Turtlegaby On Nov 23, 2008, Turtlegaby from Decatur, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I love Castor Beans, as they remind me to my childhood. My Mom grew them every year and gave me seeds shortly before she died. I planted them 10 years later and they still were all viable, germinated and grew to huge beautiful plants.

Neutral thehandyman On Oct 9, 2007, thehandyman from Suches, GA wrote:

MOLE CHASER--Haven't used the plant to get rid of moles but purchased 75% castor oil solution from Home Depot. Works well for 6-8 weeks before need to reapply. It also seems to have run off the multitude of chipmunks that took up residence in my sloping yard.

Negative DanielVan On Sep 11, 2007, DanielVan from Nacogdoches, TX wrote:

I got seeds on ebay and planted them late june . Now they are 15 ft high and blossoming. I live in deep east texas . I got them to get rid of the moles but they don't seem to work i have moles everywhere.

Positive handbright On Jun 27, 2006, handbright from Coral Springs, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

This plant was a volunteer in my garden this year, probably from bird droppings. It came up under an oak and in dappled light. As I write this, it is about 10 feet tall- all in about 8 weeks. For this zone and climate this is just a big "weed" but it was a welcomed addition to my garden this year.

Positive WUVIE On Feb 5, 2006, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Here in Northeastern Oklahoma we grow many castor bean plants each summer. The immense size of the plants, the hues of the foliage, I can't decide what I love best about them.

They are beautiful, tropical-looking and very tolerant of
drought.

Certainly I can appreciate the toxic warnings of the seeds, but let us remember we have toxic plants in our own homes, not to mention the numerous cans of chemicals and sprays right under our sinks. It is not a plant for the irresponsible or lazy person.

This plant can be enjoyed as well. If you do not wish for the hassle of the plant reseeding, cut the stalk off before it forms the seed pods. Very easy. When they pop up in the grass, mow those suckers down with the lawnmower.

This year we plan to grow even more than ever, trying a few against the house for wind break, as we tend to get some rather gusty summer winds out of the blue. I often hammer a steel rod into the ground for support while they are young, until they develop a thick stalk.

Happy and responsible gardening, everyone.

Positive Gabrielle On Jan 28, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Castor bean is a fast growing annual in zone 5, but my information says it is hardy in zones 8-10. It adds a very tropical look to the garden, and some people use them as a quick "tree" for shade. Soaking aids germination of seeds.

Positive ineedacupoftea On Oct 16, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

I would like to boast that this year, my Ricinus are 15 FEET TALL. -And I'm in Colorado! (My goal is 20' next year... ha ha) They will not be growing any taller, as the frost is fast approaching.

How To Grow: Set out as plantlets or seed en situ when nights are 50 F+ My experiments show best results with liberal peat and horse manure. Super rich soil means little to a plant in half-sun: Fullest sun is best. The plants grow fastest in heat if given enough water. (Even 100+ degrees) I have not fertilized.

Added Details: Wear gloves when handling; avoid contact with sap. This can leave a healthy person feeling rather ill... They have fairly shallow root systems and hollow stalks; characteristics which are less detrimental in high winds as might be expected. I have observed that they also have nectaries on their petioles which attract ants, and these will guard the plant like a fortress. The only bugs to bother mine have been earwigs chewing at night when the ants are off-duty.

Design: Extremely showy and gargantuan late-season interest, potentially overpowering if ill-sited. Nice paired with R. communis 'Carmencita,' and a strong support for larger Morning glories and annual vines.

Positive yvonneestelle On Aug 24, 2005, yvonneestelle from orillia, Ontario
Canada wrote:

I have grown this plant in Toronto, Ontario. and Orillia, Ontario. it grows very good here , they grow to approx 6 feet tall.

I plant them with the little sponge end down. They grow, but it takes a couple of weeks for them to start to sprout.
thanks for sharing information regarding this plant

Negative hobocat On Jul 23, 2005, hobocat from Moss Beach, CA, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

In 1964 received a necklace strung with brightly speckled beans (that a friend had brought back from Jamacia as a gift, which, as a 12 year old, I absent-mindedly chewed on as I studied. I ate several of the chewey nutty-flavored beans and about 6 hours later got REALLY sick to my stomach. As the night went on, I emptied my stomach throwing everything up and still could not stop vomiting. At about 9 a.m. the next morning as the doctor was on the phone with my mother, and I was by then too weak to walk to the bathroom by myself, I leaned over the side of my bed to dry-heave into the wastebasket and saw the shells of the beans I had eaten the night before and had forgotten about.

I was driven to Grace New Haven Hospital from Southport, CT and by the time I arrived I was so weak from diarrhea and vomiting that I passed out and could not walk all the way into the emergency room where they admitted me and pumped my stomach. THANK GOD, there was an undergraduate there who had studied Castor bean poisoning for his doctorate at Brown University and was now a resident at the Yale teaching Hospital., otherwise I might have died.

IF YOU GROW THIS PLANT DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN NEAR THE BEANS.

Positive vishva On Apr 2, 2005, vishva from Colombo
Sri Lanka wrote:

This plant grows very fast. It conquers land that is not used in a small time. However having a caster tree in your garden can save other plants from termites etc;
It's seeds have a strong smell. That seed is used to extract oil. In sri lanka and India people use it's oil as a hair conditioner. It prevents loosing hair and stops itchiness. It also helps hair to grow fast and shine. It is also used as a herb in traditional medicine.

Positive gabagoo On Jan 15, 2005, gabagoo from Yonkers, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have grown castors in containers & LOVED them. They don't get out of control that way - also not as HUGE as they get if planted in the ground.
I planted one in the ground in my mother's yard. It was HUGE!
LOL! She forbade me to ever do that again!
Nancy

Positive aviator8188 On Aug 22, 2004, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

This attractive plant grows 16' tall in one summer here in southern Illinois! I just love the tropical look the Castor Bean adds to a garden next to my Needle Palms and Sabal minor!

Negative MotherNature4 On Aug 3, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

It was reported that planting castor beans in the vegetable garden during summer would rid the soil of nematodes. With caution, we planted seeds from wildlings and they grew huge. We carefully removed ALL flower heads as soon as they formed. When September rolled around, we pulled them up and planted our garden as usual. We had just as many nematodes as before. It didn't work for our garden in central Florida.

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Aug 2, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Castor Bean is very invasive in my South Florida area. It is a very fast-growing weed that quickly colonizes undisturbed sites around farms such as sugarcane fields and canals. I see them growing in huge, weedy bunches around many of those places as well as others in my area. It is found throughout much of zones 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11 and below through the Keys, mostly in the central and southern parts of the state, Florida. However, it may be a great houseplant indoors in a pot. However, it's bright-red seeds are extremely poisonous if ingested! If you have this plant, don't plant it outdoors, and keep away from young children!

Positive Commonsense On Jul 6, 2004, Commonsense from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is an incredible plant and I recommend it strongly to anyone who is willing to be careful in regard to its poisonous properties. I grew it in England, and now I'm growing it here in SC (Z7). At the present time (early July) my castor beans are well over six feet and still growing. The larger leaves are easily 3 feet across.

I will pinch off any flowers as soon as they form to prevent it setting seed.

These guys are a bit temperamental in regard to germination (start indoors 4-5 weeks before frost-free date), but once they get going they are true thugs, and they are marvelous.

Negative tigerlillydun On Jun 3, 2004, tigerlillydun from Sierra Vista, AZ (Zone 8b) wrote:

you can't kill this bugger,...it KEEPS coming back. Evryday Im out in the horse paddocks looking for sprouts of this nasty thing ! I would'nt want anything this toxic around animals or children.

Neutral Karenn On Jun 2, 2004, Karenn from Mount Prospect, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I had this plant last year as a focal point in front of my home (north side!). I saved a few of the seeds for my neighbor and myself to plant this year. Much to my surprise, I now have a half-dozen "babies" this year (without using the saved seeds!) where I had the plant last year. I live in zone 5a/4b; I cannot imagine how invasive this plant is in a more hospitable climate!

Positive TamiMcNally On Jun 1, 2004, TamiMcNally from Lake Placid, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Roots quickly and easily from stem cuttings.

It is great screening plant. I use mine as screens until my permanent plants grow tall enough.

Although it is listed as invasive in my area, I have not had any unwanted plants. However, I am growing mine in part shade and using no irrigation.

Negative foodiesleuth On Apr 15, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

As in the area where Monocromatico lives, this plant tends to take over wildly in abandoned fields here...you see many of them growing in large clusters where sugar cane used to grow.
Ever since my son did a Science project in school many years ago, about poisonous plants I have had a healthy respect for this plant and will not plant it anywhere near my house as I'm worried about neighbor children and our pets.....also, another big reason, is I hated having to take spoonfuls of castor oil as a child!....ugh, can still taste it if I think about it.

Neutral JaxFlaGardener On Apr 14, 2004, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've had these plants for the last 3 years, one on each side of the front entrance to my house. They make striking statements with their large leaves and perpendicular form. The winter of 2002, our temperatures in N. Florida went down to 14 F and the Castor plants froze to the ground and didn't return. This winter was much milder with temperatures barely reaching 32 F for a few hours. The Castor plants lost their leaves, but the stems stayed intact. The leaves have returned this spring from the nodule axis points on the stem and are more plentiful. My castor plants have never bloomed, probably because they are on the north side of my house and in fairly deep shade most of the time. They have grown this year to a height of about 12' and are still going. I will plant some new ones from store bought seed in full sun in the south garden to accompany my other "giant" leaved plants, Gunnera mannicata, and hopefully see some blooms from the castor plants.

Neutral junglejane On Feb 3, 2004, junglejane wrote:

I live in Ocala Florida, I planted one caster bean seed beside my house, it grew straight up, with only one stock, the leaves stayed green with no purple tint in the veins, now (Feb 3rd 2004) it has a stalk of prickly seed pods. I enjoyed the nice pictures on your site. I must of planted it in the wrong spot.

Negative Monocromatico On Apr 24, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Riccinus comunis grows like a plague over here in any abandoned area, sometimes invading remainings of wild vegetation. One plant could be an interesting attraction in a garden, but people should be very careful to not lose control over it.

Positive ronb63 On Apr 9, 2003, ronb63 from Palmyra, NJ wrote:

I planted the seeds of this plant 3/31/03 ,they emerged 4/6/03.Prior to planting i soaked them in water 24 hrs.At the end of that period I could see grouth started already.It is now apr.10 and if it dont warm up around here I will have a huge display in my picture window.I live in NJ and right now it's 34 degrees.

Positive Luellen On Apr 8, 2003, Luellen from Ellettsville, IN wrote:

I love the castor bean plant, its foliage is beautiful and it makes a wonderful backdrop in the large garden. I am growing seed now for planting next month (May). I live in zone 5 so this is an annual here. Last year I had two plants and they each grew to approximately 12 feet. I planted them to keep moles away but, that does not seem to work. Overall they are beautiful plants.

Positive babyduck On Mar 22, 2003, babyduck wrote:

I've grown this plant as a hedge along my lawn and loved it. We have to grow it as an annuabecause I live in northern Ontario Canadaand the winters are very cold. 30 below sometimes.This year I've started the castor bean from the seeds I collected from the plant last fall. they are up about 1 inch now.They are a beautiful foliage plant.

Positive henkmaters On Mar 19, 2003, henkmaters wrote:

The Purple leaved variety (smaller) is known as R.Zanzibariensis. Its leaves are dark purple to almost black.

Neutral albleroy On Feb 28, 2003, albleroy from Wavre/ greenhous +/- 2500 species, IA wrote:

The castor oil plant is a species belonging to the family of the Euphorbiaceae, even if its appearance is completely different. This plant with herbaceous trunks can reach 12 meter height, but which generally does not grown over the 4 meters. Its palmate leaves can measure up to 60cm across: their colour (depending of the variety) can be deep green to purple. The flowers are grouped in glomerules at the end of the branches. The female flowers (green or carmine) on top (with red pistil depassing the flower) and the male (white) flowers under it. It is a wild plant in North-east Africa and in the Middle-East, but has spread all over the Med.basin, in Europe and the Canary Islands.
Ricinus communis is cultivated for the oil (Ricin oil in medicine) that can be extracted from the seed (cold pressing) even if their cuticle contains and extremely dangerous principle, the Ricinus, which, even in small doses is considered as one of the most poisoning natural substances (remember the last events on television!!! with that famous ricin poison!!!)
Albert

Negative gynoben On Jan 14, 2003, gynoben wrote:

I had recently acquired an oceanfront property in Central Florida. After wrestling dozens of these ugly monsterous "weeds" from the land I was trying to clear, I found I was dealing with the source of the notorious poison "ricin". I can see where in well defined landscape setttings the castor bean might be attractive but don't let them go to seed.

Neutral Baa On Oct 14, 2002, Baa wrote:

A shrub from North Africa and Western Asia. Sometimes grown as an annual in more northerly climates or as a herbaceous perennial.

Has large, ovate, deeply lobed, mid green through to reddish, glossy leaves. Bears small, yellow flowers, the female flower has a prominent red stigma. Spiny seed capsules follow the flower.

Flowers mainly June-August

Loves fertile, well drained soil in full sun.

As others have said here, this plant is highly toxic.

Positive atelier On Sep 15, 2002, atelier wrote:

Impressive growth from late planting, Gorgeous coloured foliage, bloom and seed pods.

Neutral muggie On Sep 1, 2002, muggie wrote:

I love my castor bean plant. It is large and a beautiful backdrop.

Positive oxmix On Jul 8, 2002, oxmix wrote:

As a lover of Large ornamental annual plants, I have had alot of experience with this one, and believe me it can reach a height of 15 feet or more with leaves 3 feet across in its single season, given very rich soil and alot of water. As a architectural focal point in an annual garden, this giant(if you wish it to be) with interesting red flowers and spiked seed pods will amaze most anyone, when you tell them you planted a bean in the ground in May.

On the Negative side is its need to be securely staked if you are going for the big ones, In all instances where I did not Stake them with a rather sturdy 8 to ten foot pole
they fell over. Interestingly, if you have the strength to put them back up and restake them, they continue as if nothing has happened. 17 feet is my personal record height in Connecticut.

Neutral anabelle On Jul 5, 2002, anabelle from Bakersfield, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

The seeds to the Castor Bean Plant are very toxic. There is no other plant that in its natural state that is more POISONOUS. The plant produces burrs , and the burr pods burst open and contain usually 3 seeds. The seeds look alot like pinto beans and according to my hand book have a pleasent nutty like flavor. A whole bean swallowed, but not chewed, may not cause any harm. BUT 2 to 6 beans from this plant will KILL an adult person. Be very, very careful that, when putting beans down rodent holes, that you put them far enough down the holes so that , dogs, children, horses or any thing else can not get to them. My book does not list a antidote.

Neutral Evert On Aug 11, 2001, Evert from Helsinki
Finland (Zone 4b) wrote:

Castor Bean is perennial in warm places. Seeds are killing poisonous.

Neutral dabble On Feb 9, 2001, dabble from Pisgah Forest, NC wrote:

Also called Mole Bean, this gorgeous plant will drive moles, voles and other pests from the area. The castor bean produces castor oil.

Neutral lantana On Jan 4, 2001, lantana from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grows in Heat Zones 12-1. Is considered an annual in all zones north of USDA zone 9, although some report it to be a perennial up to zone 7.

Neutral gardener_mick On Dec 2, 2000, gardener_mick from Wentworth, SD (Zone 4a) wrote:

Castor bean has extremely poisonous seeds! The plant grows to 8-10' tall and 3-4' wide. The flowers are red or red-green and the foliage is tinged red. It makes a great screen or backdrop, but should be used with caution. The flowers form small pompoms and are followed by prickly husks that have brown, speckled seeds. The plant is shrubby with leaves that are 1-3' and star-shaped. The leaves start out tinged red and turn glossy green as they grow.
Plants grow best in hot, humid climates and can become invasive in warm regions.

'Carmencita' - blooms early with bright red flowers and deep greenish brown flowers.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Grenoble,
Decatur, Alabama
Kinsey, Alabama
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Tuskegee, Alabama
Glendale, Arizona
Green Valley, Arizona
Mesa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Cabot, Arkansas
Highfill, Arkansas
Mammoth Spring, Arkansas
Alondra Park, California
Garden Valley, California
Oildale, California
Reseda, California
San Diego, California
Clifton, Colorado
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Casselberry, Florida
Coral Springs, Florida
Defuniak Springs, Florida
Deltona, Florida
Ferry Pass, Florida
Fruitville, Florida
Hawthorne, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Florida
Miami, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Lakeview Estates, Georgia
Villa Rica, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Kapaa, Hawaii
Nampa, Idaho
Burr Ridge, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Murphysboro, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Carmel, Indiana
Lexington, Indiana
Willowbrook, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Ewing, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Coushatta, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Bellaire, Michigan
Caledonia, Michigan
, Missouri
St Peters, Missouri
Lockwood, Montana
Dunellen, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
, New York
West Kill, New York
Yonkers, New York
Hamptonville, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Whispering Pines, North Carolina
Bay View, Ohio
Dundee, Ohio
Newark, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Lotsee, Oklahoma
Maccurtain, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
East Washington, Pennsylvania
Freedom, Pennsylvania
Mercer, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
La Follette, Tennessee
Lafayette, Tennessee
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Briarcliff, Texas
Houston, Texas
Hudson Bend, Texas
Kurten, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
Macallen, Texas
Marquez, Texas
Nacogdoches, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Olmos Park, Texas
Paris, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Chesapeake, Virginia
White Marsh, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Altoona, Wisconsin
Butte Des Morts, Wisconsin
Crivitz, Wisconsin
Wind Point, Wisconsin



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