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Ricinus communis ‘Dwarf Red Spire’
Ricinus communis ‘Dwarf Red Spire’

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Zones 23-28, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular Water

Ricinus communis

Castor Bean
Annuals, Evergreen, Shrubs

A bold-leafed plant from Africa and Asia, castor bean can provide a screen or leafy background 6–15 ft. tall and half as wide in a single season. Where winters are mild, it becomes woody and treelike. But most often it is grown as a 4–6-ft. annual shrub or container plant. Has naturalized in small parts of many climates. Don’t plant it where small children play—the toxic seeds are attractive and deadly (pinch off burlike seed capsules while they are small to prevent seed formation). Foliage and seeds occasionally cause severe contact allergies as well.

Large-lobed leaves are 1–3 ft. across on vigorous young plants, smaller on older plants. Unimpressive, small white flowers are borne in clusters on foot-high stalks in summer, followed by attractive prickly husks that contain seeds. Grown commercially for castor oil extracted from seeds. Many horticultural varieties with leaves tinged in red, pink, and purple. ‘Zanzi­barensis’ has very large green leaves.


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