Castor-oil plant

Ricinus communis
Castor-oil plant:Ricinus communis 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