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

Ricinus communis

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



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow


Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall


Grown for foliage

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:

El Cajon, California

San Diego, California

Longmont, Colorado

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Chicago, Illinois

Barbourville, Kentucky

Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Leakesville, Mississippi

Saint Louis, Missouri

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Eugene, Oregon

Grants Pass, Oregon

Gilberton, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Jackson, Tennessee

Westmoreland, Tennessee

Broaddus, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Hereford, Texas

Vancouver, Washington

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 Feb 2, 2014, jv123 from Washougal, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant grows well during the warmer months in Vancouver WA. Luckily, it produces copious amounts of seeds that I can replant the next year, and as long as I plant it in a sunny warm spot, it grows fast enough that it seems like it never got frost killed! I have seed that was collected in July, and a few days ago I planted it in a seed tray with a humidity dome. 2 days later it has sprouted. I can't wait to have more tropical red foliage this year.

Edit May 2nd 2014:
Looks like I didn't need to worry about saving seeds from this castor bean. There are several seeds that have since germinated in my garden, that spent the winter unprotected on top of bark mulch. It is much hardier than I anticipated! I guess I'll be getting volunteer Impalas year after year whe... read more


On Nov 25, 2008, CurtisJones from Longmont, CO wrote:

From your friends at Botanical Interests: Annual (Perennial in zones 8-10). Blooms in summer. 4'-15' tall. Full sun. Fast growing, dramatic, and tropical! Green foliage turns turns into very striking dark bronze foliage with scarlet seed heads (with adequate sunlight). Please note that all parts of this plant are VERY POISONOUS and should be kept away from small kids and pets. Excellent exotic backdrop for the back of the border. Prefers hot humid climates, but can be grown anywhere for a taste of the tropics in your own backyard.