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Castor Bean

Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis, photo © by Michael Plagens

Castor Bean inflorescence observed along the Salt River in Phoenix, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. Sept. 2009.

LEAVES: Large palmately cleft leaves have prominent veins and a stout petiole.

FLOWERS: Spikes of separate male and female flowers which are mostly green with some red associated with the stigmata and pistils. Blooming late spring through summer.

FRUIT: Three-valved capsules are spherical, nearly the size of ping pong balls, and covered with spiny projections. The clusters of fruit when ripe turn conspicuously red.

SHRUBBY: Robust, mostly herbaceous plant above, but lower stems and branches becomes woody in older plants. If protected from killing frost might reach 3 meters or taller.

RANGE: Locally common along rivers and drainages mostly at the lower, warmer locations in the Sonoran Desert. Escape from cultivation; native to Eurasia.


Euphorbiaceae -- Spurge Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009