Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Castor-bean - Ricinus communis   L.
Members of Euphorbiaceae:
Only member of Ricinus in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Euphorbiales » Family Euphorbiaceae
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DistributionIn scattered locations across the state.

Native of northeastern Africa (and India?); in N.A. NC to MO, south to FL, TX, CA.
AbundanceApparently rare to uncommon throughout. Cultivated as an ornamental still today, even though the seeds are dangerously poisonous and many people are allergic to the sap -- giving a rash like Poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).
HabitatWaste areas, garden weed, near hog pen, near barn on farm, trash dump, disused compost pile, roadsides.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-October.
IdentificationCastor-bean is easily recognizable by its coarse shrubby look (despite being an annual), reddish or red-brown stem, and dark green palmate leaves that look like overblown Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). The inflorescence is a vertical shoot supporting a narrow panicle with male (yellow) and female (red) flowers embedded within spiny spheres.
Taxonomic CommentsThere is only one species in the genus.

Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
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USACE-empUPL link
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B.A. SorriePiedmont, Robbins, Bear Creek Trails, weedy roadside clearing, Sept 2021. MoorePhoto_non_natural
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