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Castor Bean Plant
Euphorbiaceae
Ricinus communis


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb


Euphorbiaceae Family

Ricinus Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Castor Bean, Castor Oil Plant, Palma Christi


Location

Native to the Ethiopian region. People have introduced the species around the world. It has escaped from cultivation and can be found as a wild and sometimes invasive plant in Australia, many Pacific Islands, and in 27 states (including New Jersey)

Physical Description
The castor plant is a robust annual that may grow 6 to 15 feet (2-5 meters) in one season with full sunlight, heat and adequate moisture. In areas with mild, frost-free winters it may live for many years and become quite woody and tree-like. The large, palmately lobed leaves may be over 20 inches (50 cm) across and resemble a tropical aralia. There are several cultivated varieties with strikingly different foliage colorations, including black-purplish, dark red-metallic, bronze-green, maroon, bright green with white veins, and just plain green. Although it grows very rapidly with little care or insect pests and produces a mass of lush tropical foliage, its use in cultivation should be discouraged because of the extremely poisonous seeds or "beans." This is particularly true where small children might be attracted to the large, beautifully-mottled seeds which are produced in prodigious numbers


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Euphorbiaceae
Malpighiales
Malpighi Order
Oxid Clad
Oxid-Faba
Fabidae
Bean-Like Class
Eurosids
Real Rose Class
Rosids
Rosids
Rose-Like Class
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Eudicots
Eudicots
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Although the seeds or beans are extremely poisonous, they are the source of numerous economically important products and are one of earliest commercial products. Castor beans have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 B.C., and the oil was used thousands of years ago in wick lamps for lighting.

Castor oil has been used medicinally in the United States since the days of the pioneers. As Americans moved west after the Civil War, settlers were very attracted to Indian medicines and popular "cure-all" remedies. The stronger smelling and the more vile tasting the concoction, the better, and some medical historians have described the latter part of the 1800's as the "age of heroic cures." Traveling medicine men peddled their elixirs throughout towns of the west, and often their products contained up to 40 percent (80 proof) alcohol. Castor oil was one of the old-fashioned remedies for everything from constipation to heartburn.

Medicinal Uses: It is indeed a very effective cathartic or purgative (laxative) and is still used to this day; however, there are milder, less drastic methods of inducing regularity. Castor oil is also used as personal lubricant: It is sometimes applied externally as a soothing emollient for dry skin, dermatitis, other skin diseases, sunburn, open sores, and it is the primary ingredient of several brand name medications. Several additional little-known uses for castor oil include hair tonics, ointments, cosmetics, and contraception creams and jellies. One remarkable old remedy mentions administering castor oil to induce labor during pregnancy

Warning: Highly Toxic!! As little as 0.5 mg (the amount contained in several seeds) can kill an adult. One seed can kill a child. We are not the only sensitive animals. Four seeds will kill a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox or horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but it takes 80 to kill a duck

Symptoms of ricin poisoning begin within hours after exposure by ingestion or inhalation. They include stomach irritation, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, profuse sweating, collapse, convulsions, and death within a few days. Victims that do not die in 3 to 5 days usually recover.



Castor Bean Plant
Seedpods



Castor Bean Plant
Stems



Castor Bean Plant
Entire Plant



Castor Bean Plant
Leaf



Castor Bean Plant
\'Flowers\'

Comment: Castor Bean Plant, Ricinus communis

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