Castor oil plant - an excellent medicinal and dangerous plant

Castor oil plant is an evergreen perennial plant from the Euphorbia family. It is believed that it originated in Ethiopia, from where it spread throughout the tropics and subtropics of the entire planet. It can also be found under the names "paradise tree", "castor" or "Turkish hemp". Strong branched stems covered with unusual large leaves are very decorative. This makes castor oil very popular among gardeners. At the same time, the toxic properties of seeds and juice are alarming. Of course, this requires increased attention, but with proper handling, castor oil will become a magnificent decoration of the garden and will attract a lot of attention.

Botanical characteristics

Castor-oil plant - a spreading fast-growing shrub 2-10 m high. In the natural environment, it exists for several years, delighting with its huge size and decorative leaves. In a temperate climate, castor oil is grown as an annual. During the season she manages to grow up to 3 m in height. Strong branched shoots are hollow tubes with a ribbed surface. They are covered with green, pinkish or purple skin with a slight matte coating of a bluish tint.

Large petiolate foliage grows again. The length of one petiole is 20-60 cm. The leaf has a deeply cut palmate shape and consists of 5-7 lobes. The width of one leaf plate reaches 30-80 cm. Oval-shaped segments with a pointed edge and wavy sides are painted in dull green. On the surface, the central and lateral veins are clearly visible.

Flowering occurs in the summer months. Between the leaves and at the top of the shoot dense brushes of small, nondescript flowers bloom. Each inflorescence consists of male and female buds, painted in white or cream. Numerous stamens form a lush bun and give inflorescences airiness. Female flowers with three separate stigmas are painted in raspberry, yellow or red.

After pollination, spherical seed capsules, covered with skin with sharp spikes, mature. The diameter of the fruit reaches 3 cm. Inside, it is divided into 3 departments, where there are quite large seeds, similar to beans, with spotted skin.

Benefit and harm

Castor oil seeds, as well as its oilcake, contain a large amount of ricin and ricinin. These substances, extremely dangerous for humans, cause poisoning, spasms, and bleeding in the digestive tract. You can die, it is enough for a child to eat up to 6 seeds, and for an adult - up to 20. Often a smaller dose is often enough. You can’t even try and chew castor oil, especially seeds. Also, after working in the garden, wash your hands thoroughly.

The first signs of poisoning are vomiting, headache, general weakness, burning and cramping in the stomach, as well as a yellow skin tone. As soon as a suspicion of poisoning appears, you should immediately call a doctor, as the condition will soon worsen.

Although the seeds are very toxic, in the pharmaceutical industry castor oil is valued precisely for them. Valuable oils occupy up to half the volume of raw materials. They are used for treatment and for technical purposes.

After special processing, castor oil is obtained. Spin technology makes it possible to neutralize poisonous alkaloids. The drug helps to cope with inflammation of the digestive tract, colitis, constipation, and fever. They are lubricated by ulcers and burns on the skin. In cosmetology, castor oil is used to get rid of warts and whiten age spots. It also helps to increase the contractile activity of the uterus and facilitates the course of bronchitis.

Garden varieties

The castor bean species is monolithic, that is, it is based on the only variety - castor bean. She became the progenitor of decorative varieties and hybrids. The plant is a sprawling bush covered with long-leaved, carved leaves. Closer inflorescences of yellow or cream hue grow closer to the stem on short peduncles. After pollination, they are replaced by spherical seed boxes with spikes. Among the most spectacular varieties, the following are distinguished:

  • Gibson castor oil. A bush about 1.5 m high is covered with large green leaves with a metallic sheen. On the surface along the veins, the leaf plate acquires a reddish hue.
    Gibson Castor Oil
  • Castor oil plant Zanzibar. An annual variety with high growth rates up to 200 cm high. Truly huge leaves have a red-violet color, and large beautiful inflorescences are located near the trunk.
    Castor bean Zanzibar
  • Castor oil plant red. A very decorative variety, 1.5-2 m high, grows large palmate leaves of a dark red color with a shiny surface.
    Castor bean red
  • Castor bean impala. A more compact bush grows to a height of 120 cm in height. Its powerful fast-growing shoots are dotted with bronze-green foliage with red strokes along the veins and the same bright red flowers in large dense tassels.
    Castor Oil Impala
  • Castor bean bourbon. A powerful bush with a red branched stem grows 3 m in height. It has large green leaves with a glossy surface.
    Bourbon castor oil
  • Castor oil plant Cambodian. A plant about 1.2 m high is distinguished by an almost black trunk and dark green foliage, cut almost to the base.
    Cambodian Castor Oil

Reproduction and planting

Gardeners emphasize that growing castor oil at home is possible only by seed. Fortunately, a sufficient number of them ripen during the season. Large seeds are covered with dense skin, which complicates the process of germination. Therefore, before sowing, they are scarified (they damage the skin with a file or sandpaper). Then planting material is soaked for 10-12 hours in a solution of "Epina".

Castor oil can be sown immediately in open ground in May. To quickly get a powerful plant, seedlings are grown. To do this, in early April, prepare small pots filled with garden loose soil only half. Large seeds are easy to distribute one by one. They are buried by 1.5-2.5 cm. After processing, the sprouts appear rather quickly, already on the third or fourth day. Seedlings immediately develop very quickly. The escape is pulled, and then real carved leaves appear. To get a denser bush, the seedlings are transferred to a cool place with a temperature of + 15 ... + 18 ° C. Gradually growing castor oil plant is sprinkled with earth and the pot is filled to the brim.

When the time comes to plant a heat-loving plant in open ground, the height of castor oil plants will reach 1 m. Usually this happens in late May or early June. Even compact forms differ in large sizes, so 1-2 plants are determined in each planting pit. Landing is carried out by the method of transshipment so that sensitive roots do not suffer. The distance between the individual instances in the group should be about 1-1.5 m.

Care Rules

Castor oil is relatively unpretentious and grows very quickly. Best of all, bushes develop in nutritious loose soil (chernozem). The higher the fertility rate, the larger the bush will be. In the presence of strong drafts, castor oil growth will slow down. Most varieties prefer a humid environment and good lighting.

Succulent leaves quickly evaporate moisture, so regular watering becomes the main point in care. In the absence of precipitation, a bucket of water is poured into the ground 1-2 times a week.

Immediately after planting, the soil near the plant is mulched. First we need periodic weeding and getting rid of weeds. Gradually, weeds themselves will stop growing.

During the season, 2-3 times castor oil is fed with mineral fertilizers with a high nitrogen content. For the first time they are introduced during the budding period.

In the fall, with the onset of the first cold weather, the shoots will begin to darken, and the leaves will fade. Unfortunately, castor oil does not winter in a temperate climate, so there is no point in trying to preserve it. A dried plant is cut, and the earth is dug up, preparing for a new flower garden.

Castor oil plant is resistant to most plant diseases. Only in a cold and shady place on it can rot, phylostictosis or powdery mildew develop on it. Improving the bush will help the treatment with fungicides or Bordeaux liquid.

From time to time, caterpillars, false-stalks, meadow bugs, sand larvae and wireworms settle on leaves and stems. Pests will bother less if you plant spicy herbs, garlic and onions next to castor oil. Treatment of bitter wormwood (1: 3) or insecticides also helps with parasites.

Castor oil plant in landscaping

A large bush with luxurious leaves of red and green flowers stands out in a single planting in the middle of a lawn or in the center of a rounded flower bed, framed by lower flowering plants. Castor oil is often used to decorate hedges or decorate walls. It is noted that flies fly much less frequently near this plant.

Although castor beans are so poisonous, growing for decorative purposes is not dangerous. If the house does not have small children, poultry and animals, you should not be afraid. Just being near the plant or touching it will not harm. It is only important to monitor hygiene.