Castor Bean Tree

 In Hawaii Trees & Plants

Ricinus communis – Castor Bean

Other Common Name: Castorbean, Castor Oil Plant, Palma Christi

Ricinus communis is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. It is commonly known as Palma Christi, Castor Oil Plant, Castorbean, or Castor Bean. Despite the name, the Castor Bean is not a bean nor related to it.

The Castor Bean can be considered as a woody shrub or a small tree as it normally grows only up to 16 feet or 5 meters tall. They are fast growing, though, with an annual growth of 1 to 5 meters. Sometimes, they can reach around 39 feet or 12 meters, but that rarely happens.

The leaves grow anywhere between 15 to 45 centimeters or 5.9 to 17.7 inches long. They grow in long stalks and are palmate, with 5 to 12 coarsely toothed lobes. When young, they have a reddish purple or bronze color, but as they mature, their color turns dark green with some hints of red.

The flowers of the Castor Bean grow in clusters located at the stem tips. They are monoecious, which means that both male and female flowers grow on the same plant. The male flowers, which are more plentiful than the female flowers, are yellowish green in color and have creamy stamens that are very prominent. On the other hand, female flowers usually lie in immature spiny capsules and have red stigmas that are also very prominent.

The flowers produce greenish to reddish purple spiny capsules, which are the Castor Bean fruits. Each capsule contains big and shiny bean-like seeds that are brittle, mottled, and brown in color. These are poisonous as they contain ricin, which is a deadly toxin.

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