How to Grow Castor Oil Plant? Guide | Features

Introduction

The Castor oil plant is a unique addition to the ornamental landscape, with its enormous, tropical-looking leaves and odd seed pods. Ricinus communis, the only species of the genus, belongs to the Spurge Family of Euphorbiaceae. The name Ricinus comes from the Latin word Ricinus, which means “tick.” It was specifically chosen for this plant because the seeds are incredibly similar to a certain kind of European tick.

Common in tropical and subtropical east Africa near Ethiopia, the castor bean tree has become a weed in many other areas too around the globe. For instance, in the southwestern United States. Plants thrive in damp, well-drained enriched soils in disturbed regions like roadside ditches, river beds and, as well as in fields and along the boundaries of the cultivated land. Apart from Tasmania, the castor oil plant has spread across Australia. Moreover, it is now found in all states and territories. It’s common in watercourses, gullies, and roadside areas, as well as disturbing terrain and floodplains. Moreover, it can quickly expand, encroaching on grazing ground and leaving it unsuitable for cattle.

The shell of the castor seed carries ricin, a lethal venom. Although the castor oil plant is not a restricted or prohibited invasive species under the Biosecurity Act 2014, you should handle it with caution. Let’s take a closer look at Castor Oil.

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Castor Oil Plant Features

Scientific Name

Ricinus communis L.

Common Name

They are commonly known as castor oil plants, Castor beans, Palma Christi, and Higuerilla.

Family of Plant

The plant’s family is Euphorbiaceae.

Origin

Its origin is from Africa but is now spread across the globe.

Flower Size

Castor flower is 3m tall.

Flower Color

Reddish-green color

Branch Color

Younger branches are hollow and stout of dull red or pale-green color. They later turned grey.

Leaves Color

Young leaves are dark reddish-green color, and when mature, they turn to glossy green.

Leaves Size

They are 15 to 30 cm wide and 60cm tall.

Fruit Shape

It is like a spiny capsule.

Fruit Seed

Each fruit capsule divides into three sections that have a brown mottled and shiny grey seed.

Fruit Color

Initially, it is blue-green, which turns black later on.

Habitat

Along the roadsides, waste areas, and as an ornamental.

Toxic

Poisonous for all animals and human beings.

Climate

These plants prefer warmer climates.

ricinus plant
How to Grow Castor Oil Plant? Guide | Features 6

Life Cycle of Castor Oil Seed

The life cycle has the following four stages,

  • In spring, seeds germinate.
  • Between December to March, flowering occurs.
  • Within 12 months, they grow up to 6cm in length.
  • Finally, reproduction and dispersal occur.

Planting Castor Bean Seeds

When to Plant?

Grow them inside 6-8 weeks before your expected last frost date to give them the greatest possible start. Based on the location you live in, the actual days may vary. So, if you don’t know what it is, google it up.

How to Plant?

Castor bean seeds do not require any particular tools to cultivate, but you will need a few items. If you have done plantation before, you might have some of these pieces of equipment already,

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Requirements

  • The following items are required:
  • Seedling tray,
  • Significant peat pellets/seed starting soil
  • Plantable pots/Reusable plastic pots
  • Plastic wrap or a clear bin.
  • Seeds
  • Heat mat (optional)
  • Water

Step 1-Fill the seed trays with soil

Fill your seed container halfway with a high-quality seed starting from the middle. Alternatively, you might fill the tray with pre-moistened big peat pellets.

Step 2: Water Draining

This is the optional step, as you can drain the water from the seeds or pluck them out of the water as you sow them. It doesn’t matter either way you do it; assure they don’t dry out. Also, be careful not to damage the small protruding nub while you proceed.

Step 3- Seeds Plantation

Dig a hole in the earth to the appropriate depth of 1″ to 1.5″ deep and put a seed into it. The seedlings will make their way up to the top regardless of which side is up.

Step 4- Covering Seeds with Soil

Bury seeds in the soil and firmly press down. Ensure the dirt comes in contact with the seeds, but don’t pack it down too tightly.

Step 5- Wrapping the Pots

Cover containers with plastic wrap if it does not have a transparent lid. Alternatively, you might place them in a big plastic bin with the top covered to maintain the soil moist while they germinate.

Step 6- Put them in a warm position.

Putting the pot on top of a heat mat will help them germinate faster. However, as they require warm soil to flourish, placing them in the hottest position possible will work too.

Step 7- Keep the Soil Moist Uniformly

While you’re waiting for the seeds to sprout, make sure the soil doesn’t run dry. It should remain moist all the time but never become sloppy. The seeds may decay if the soil is too wet.

castor plant
How to Grow Castor Oil Plant? Guide | Features 7

Castor Bean Seeds Growing Guidelines

There are a few factors to consider while sowing castor bean seeds because they are distinct from other species.

Soaking

Soaking them first increases the likelihood of their germination. It’s also critical to use the correct spot to make things simpler. You are immersing them for 24 hours in warm water before sowing gives them an extra boost.

Choosing The Best Pots

It would be best to plant castor oil seeds in deep pots unless you transplant them soon after sprouting. The seedlings will grow swiftly once they have germinated. But, as a result, they overrun seed starting trays in a matter of days. Moreover, you might begin to them in plantable peat pots right away to transplant them to the yard. Besides, you can also try coco coir or cow pots instead of peat if you want to use something more environmentally friendly. Reusable plastic seedling pots, on the other hand, are ideal.

Germination Time

Castor seeds can take a very long time to sprout, so be persistent. Germination takes 10-21 days on average. However, it can take up to a month for others to germinate, so don’t be alarmed if it takes longer.

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Castor Oil Plant Uses

You can use this plant in various ways, which are given below.

Dry Eyes

Those with dry eyes may benefit from using eye drops incorporating castor oil.

Childbirth

Several women approaching their due date but still haven’t gone into labor may benefit from getting a single castor oil dosage. Castor oil, which is a potent laxative, is made from castor beans. Castor oil may help to trigger labor during pregnancy by boosting the uterus.

Constipation

When taken orally, castor oil acts as a stimulating laxative, which helps to relieve constipation.

Emptying the Colon

Before a colonoscopy, the colon must be emptied. Castor oil in a single dose may help evacuate the colon. Alternative bowel preparations, including sodium phosphate or bisacodyl plus magnesium citrate, don’t appear much functional. However, those who are getting ready for a colonoscopy should avoid castor oil.

castor oil fruit
How to Grow Castor Oil Plant? Guide | Features 8

Side Effects of Castor Plant

Ingested Orally

Castor oil is safe for most people when consumed as a single dose by mouth. However, it can induce cramping, stomach pain, dizziness, and nausea in some people.

Additionally, it is not safe when taken in significant dosages or long-term. This is because it may cause fluid and potassium loss in the body.  Instead, when ingested as a single dose, they are safe with scraped outer coat seed.

Using As Eye-Drop

When used for up to 30 days, they are safe.

Consequences

Economic Impact

It propagates over sandy creek banks, soil areas, and slopes, causing significant grazing land loss.

Social Impact

These plant seeds have ricin, which is hazardous to people and livestock. In addition, if consumed, the leaves can induce neuromuscular problems.

How does it spread?

When the fruit is fully mature, it explodes and scatters seeds over a long distance. Roadside slashing, trucks, animals, and garden trash are all sources of infection.

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Control

Physical Environment Control

Individual plants can be pulled out by hand or by cultivating them. To control the plant, broadscale infestations may be required, along with spraying herbicides.

Herbicide Management

The application of various herbicides has proven to be effective in controlling them. Additionally, Fluroxypyr has been discovered effective, and specific formulations are allowed under PER11463 under certain circumstances. [1]

Toxicity

Castor oil seeds and leaves contain several poisonous chemicals, which are primarily composed of ricinoleic acid. In addition, the seeds have the highest proportion of ricin (glycoprotein).

Ricin is a very toxic molecule that can be taken by the gastrointestinal tract and then processed in the liver before being absorbed into cells, hindering the creation of ribosomal proteins.

Harmful effects usually manifest within a few hours and are lethal. However, the toxin will not be available if the seeds are chewed well before swallowing, and if there are any indicators of poison, they would be mild.

As their muscular stomach crushes the seeds to unleash the poisons, birds that consume the seeds will be impacted. Likewise, the Ricinus plant leaves are hazardous and cause ataxia, excessive salivation, and muscle tremors. Yet, animals that consume the leaves are rarely killed.

Toxic Effects

Gastrointestinal

Diarrhea and Colic symptoms appear after eating the well-chewed seeds. Sadness, Pyrexia, colic, anorexia, and abdominal distention are the most common early displaying signs in most animals. Extreme vomiting, fatigue, and hemorrhagic diarrhea may lead to severe symptoms and mortality based on the quantity of toxin absorbed. In cattle, bloat and rumen stasis are prevalent.

Musculoskeletal

Muscle pain and trembling are musculoskeletal problems.

Treatment

Remove castor beans from the digestive path by causing vomiting or administering mineral oil and activated charcoal through the stomach tube. To offset the consequences of shock and dehydration, intensive IV fluids therapy is recommended. Moreover, vitamin C in significant concentrations is also said to be helpful.

Legal Requirements

The Biosecurity Act of 2014 does not list castor oil as a forbidden or prohibited invasive plant. However, under the law, everyone has a general biosecurity duty (GBO) to take appropriate and possible actions to reduce the dangers of exotic species under their authority.

Local governments are required to have a biosecurity plan in place that addresses these invasive plants in their jurisdiction. This plan could involve efforts against specific species. In addition, a few of these measures may be mandated by municipal legislation. For further information, consult your local government.

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castor flower
How to Grow Castor Oil Plant? Guide | Features 9

Frequently Asked Questions About Castor Oil Plant:

What do castor beans look like?

Castor bean stands out in the garden with its huge leaves and towering presence. The rough texture starkly contrasts with plants with a more refined texture and dark bronzy-red or purplish stems and seed pods and the same color’s foliage. This well-branched variety reaches a height of 5′ to 6′.

Where does the castor oil plant grow?

The Castor bean tree is common in tropical east Africa near Ethiopia. Still, it has become a weed in many tropical and subtropical regions around the globe, including the southwestern United States. It thrives in moist, enriched, and well-drained soils in disturbed regions like roadside ditches and riverbeds.

What does a castor oil plant look like?

The plants have large palmate leaves with 12 lobes and crimson branches that grow up to 3m tall. Due to the general ricin concentration in their mottled bean-like seeds, the spiky spined bronze-to-red bunches of fruits are generally removed before they develop. Also, leaflets have teeth on them.

How to plant castor beans?

Castor beans can be grown directly in the garden in late spring or seeded indoors earlier. For instance, 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost, move outside as the weather gets warmer. For enhanced germination, cut or bury the seeds or soak them overnight. You should sow seeds 1-1.5″ deep.

How to plant castor bean seeds indoors?

Castor bean seeds can be seeded 6 to 8 weeks before the final frost date or planted directly outdoors once the frost season has ended. The Ricinus seeds are suggested to be soaked in water for 24 hours to break down the seed covering. Then, keep the seed moist by covering it with 1/4 inch of dirt.

Where to plant castor beans?

A castor plant prefers whole light and high humidity. For optimal results, use loamy, moist soil that is not soaking wet. To help seeds germinate, soak them overnight. Castor bean seeds can be planted straight into the field in warmer places, or once the soil can be cultivated and the danger of frost has gone.

Conclusion

Castor is a seed-producing plant that is made from ripe seeds. Their outer covering (hull) was extracted and has been used for ages as a remedy. However, there is no solid scientific evidence to support the use of castor oil for bowel preparation and constipation before delivery, colonoscopy, and other conditions.

The core of the castor seed includes ricin, a lethal venom. That is why, before using, the hull must be detached. Moreover, ricin has been put to the test as a chemical weapon. Ricin used in weapons is refined and generated in tiny particles that can be inhaled.

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