Castor Bean

Common Names:
Castor Bean, Castorbean, Palm of Christ
Scientific name:
Ricinus communis
Elevation range:
< 3700 ft
Flowering Months:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Life Cycle | Lifeform:
Pollinator or food source for:
TOXIC, May cause contact dermatitis, Invasive (non-native), Non-native
Ancestral Usage:
State Occurrences:
Desert region:
Chihuahuan, Sonoran

Castor Bean 1

Castor Bean in the desert

Some parts of Ricinus communis are extremely toxic, especially the seeds, of which as few as four can be fatal in humans. However, it is source of castor oil, which was used medicinally until the mid-1900s by families all over the US. On the left, last year's seed capsule. On the right, maturing fruit. Palm Springs, CA | February 2014

Castor Bean 2

Castor Bean in the desert

Ricinus communis is a fast-growing perennial that can be as large as a small tree. Palm Springs, CA | February 2014    

Castor Bean 3

Castor Bean in the desert

Ricinus communis has very large dark green palmate leaves, and the plant is monoecious with both male and female flowers. Female flowers have a bright red stigma. Mature fruit capsules, which contain seeds (not beans--the common name is inacurrate) are visible at left in the photo. Palm Springs, CA | February 2015