Castor Bean, Caster Oil Plant, Mole Bean, Higuera Infernal 'Zanzibarensis'

Ricinus communis

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ricinus (RISS-i-nus) (Info)
Species: communis (KOM-yoo-nis) (Info)
Cultivar: Zanzibarensis
Additional cultivar information:(aka Zanzibar)
Synonym:Ricinus zanzibarensis



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Hereford, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona

Menifee, California

San Diego, California

Dunnellon, Florida

Fort Myers, Florida

Chicago, Illinois

La Grange Park, Illinois

Roselle, Illinois

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Blanchard, Michigan

Britton, Michigan

Leakesville, Mississippi

Smithville, Mississippi

Dover, New Hampshire

Columbia Station, Ohio

Swanton, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Tangent, Oregon

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

San Angelo, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 2, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This species has naturalized in 34 states. As far north as Maine, it can overwinter as a self-sowing annual.

Where it is hardy, it's a suckering perennial shrub that can reach a height of 40'.

It's a heavy producer of light air-borne pollen which is highly allergenic. It's a common trigger for hayfever and asthma. In many people, it also causes a skin rash on contact. The seed pods are spiny.

In California, Florida, and Texas, it's on the official lists of species invasive of natural habitat.

Native to the eastern Mediterranean, east Africa, and India, it's now spread to most tropical areas around the world, where it's commonly considered invasive.


On Jun 24, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

There will always be room in my garden for many Castor Beans.

Zanzibarensis, also recorded as Zanzibariensis / Zanzibar, is the
largest leafed variety often growing to extreme heights. Typically, the all green plant with white veining is found, though also features shades of red within the variety.

While they are poisonous, the seed pods present the problem moreso than the plant itself. Simply remove the pods before they
form and / or mature, and dispose of them properly.

Using common sense, there is no reason one cannot safely grow these tropical beauties in one season, provided a long season is available.


On Mar 23, 2007, dulcimerdude from Britton, MI wrote:

I'm a castor bean lover from way back. I began growing the "giants" a couple of years back and have been very pleased. The first year plants grew to over 10' with the largest leaf about 30" across. Last year, grew to almost 14' with the broadest leaf over 36" across. This year, I started my indoor garden before Christmas, currently have plants almost 2' tall, so hope to get some 20 foot'ers this year.


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

'Zanzibarensis' 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.


On Jan 6, 2006, Dacooolest from Brandon, MB (Zone 2b) wrote:

A particularly large variety of castor bean, with dark green leaves and red berries. In my short season garden, they grew 8 feet tall!!