Castor bean

Castor bean

Scientific name: Ricinus communis L.

English names: Castor, Castor Bean, Castor-oil Plant.

Local names: Bherenda, Gab-bherenda, Reri, Venna.




Taxonomic Position According to Cronquist

Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyte
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Malpighiales
Family Euphorbiaceae
SpeciesR. communis

Botanical Description of Castor Bean

Habit: An erect single-stemmed or much-branched shrubby or tree-like, somewhat glaucous herb, up to 4 m tall. Stem hollow, becoming woody at the base, young shoot often pruinose.



Leaves: Leaves stipulate, stipular sheath ovate, c 1.5 cm long, leaving a circular scar when fallen, petiolate, petioles 5-20 cm long, 7-9 lobed, the median lobe 10-20 x 2-6 cm, sometimes larger, the lateral lobes progressively smaller, leaf blade lanceolate, acuminate to acute, coarsely glandular-serrate orbiserrate, lateral nerves 10-20 pairs, dark green above, paler beneath.


Inflorescence:Inflorescence 12-25 cm long, bracts c 1 cm long, the bracteoles smaller. Male flowers: pedicels c 1 cm long, calyx lobes elliptic-ovate, 5-8 x 3-4 mm, acute, yellowish-green, stamens c 6 mm long, anthers 0.5 mm long, pale yellow.

Castor bean

Female flowers: pedicels 3-4 mm long, extending up to 20 mm in fruits, calyx lobes lanceolate, 4-5 mm long, acuminate, purplish, ovary 3-celled with 1 ovule in each cell, subglobose, styles 3-6 mm long.

Fruits: Fruits 1.0-1.8 x 0.8-1.4 cm, smooth or sparingly to densely covered with bristle-tippe fleshy processes. Seeds 6-10 x 3-5 mm, shiny, greyish or silvery, usually streaked and flecked.


Economic Importance: The leaves are applied to head to relieve headache, and is used as poultice for boils. The seed is administered in the treatment of joint pains and constipation. Seeds are counter-irritant and possess a toxic substance named Ricin. Oil obtained from the seeds is used as a purgative. A decoction of root is prescribed for treatment of inflammation, rheumatism, asthma and bronchitis.

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