Ricinus communis  L. Castor oil plant  - Euphorbiaceae

The very poisonous castor bean, Ricinus communis, resembles a bug in both marking and shape. The generic name alludes to this, as Ricinus means "tick" in Latin.  The plant, probably indigenous to Africa, is an annual shrub in temperate climates but a small perennial tree in the tropics.  The castor oil expressed from the seed and used extensively in medicine does not contain ricin, the poisonous principle.

Castor beans came to America shortly after the voyages of Columbus.  The seed oil has a long history of being used as an illuminant and an anointing oil.  Today it is one of the world's important industrial oils. Castor beans vary in size and color

 

 

 

 

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