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Common name:Castor-oil plant
Scientific name:Ricinus communis
Alternative common names:
Castorbean, wonder tree (English); kasterolieboom, bloubottelboom, bosluisboom (Afrikaans); mohlafotha (Sesotho); mokhura (Pedi); mufuta (Shona); umfude (Ndebele); umhlakuva (isiZulu); umhlakuva (isiXhosa)
This plant is an annual shrub or small tree with a softly woody stem growing up to 4m high with leaf and flowering stalks often with a grey bloom. The shiny, dark green or reddish leaves are paler below and star-shaped with serrated margins. Upper flowers are reddish and lower flowers cream. Green, brown or reddish, three-lobed capsules covered with soft spines. The whole plant is poisonous.
Where does this species come from?Tropical Africa.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?CARA 2002 – Category 2 NEMBA – Category 2
Where in South Africa is it a problem?All provinces in South Africa
How does it spread?Seed dispersal
Why is it a problem?Competes with indigenous pioneering species especially in watercourses. Extremely poisonous.
What does it look like?General description: A very distinctive plant with green, spreading star-shaped leaves and tall, spiky fruit capsules. Leaves: Shiny, star-shaped dark green or reddish leaves that are paler below with serrated margins. Flowers: Upper flowers are reddish and lower flowers cream. Fruit/seeds: Green, brown or reddish, three-lobed capsules covered with soft spines protruding from the top of the plant.
Does the plant have any uses?Ornament, castor-oil