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German wasp | Vespula germanica

German wasp

Vespula germanica

Coral bush | Ardisia crenata

Coral bush

Ardisia crenata

Purple loosestrife | Lythrum salicaria

Purple loosestrife

Lythrum salicaria

Pom pom weed | Campuloclinium macrocephalum

Pom pom weed

Campuloclinium macrocephalum

Canarybird bush | Crotalaria agatiflora

Canarybird bush

Crotalaria agatiflora

Peanut butter cassia | Senna didymobotrya

Peanut butter cassia

Senna didymobotrya

Rubber vine | Cryptostegia grandiflora

Rubber vine

Cryptostegia grandiflora

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Environmental Programmes

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Castor-oil plant

Ricinus communis

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.

Additional Info

  • 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

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General News Updates

2019 National Symposium on Biological Invasio…


This is your invitation to South Africa's 2019 National Symposium on Biological Invasions. The convention is hosted by the Centre for Invasion Biology (CIB), University of Stellenbosch, and the Biolo... Read more

2019 Invasive Species Training


During the past five years (2014-2018), ISSA invasive species trainers have trained 4 000 in the identification of invasive species and laws pertaining to invasive species across South Africa.  ... Read more

Alien Grass Working Group


Who are we? The South African National Alien Grass Working Group was jointly initiated by the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Centre for Excellence in Invasion Biology (C·I·B) in... Read more

Permits for planting indigenous Cynodon?


On 16 February, 2018, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs issued amendments to the regulations and lists relating to the National List of Invasive Species.  Updates to the draft&n... Read more

Invasive species training 2018 dates released


Interested in invasive species?  How much do you know about NEMBA invasive species compliance for landowners and organs of state? The South African Green Industries Council (SAGIC) have released... Read more

Communications post for Africa advertised


The Nature Conservancy has advertised a brand new post:  Communications Manager, Africa Region. Knowledge of invasive species and water would be an asset in this post. See details below:    Job Titl... Read more