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Ricinus communis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: EuphorbiaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual to shrub, tree [vine, cactus-like succulent]; monoecious or dioecious; sap clear or milky. Stem: generally branched [fleshy or spiny]. Leaf: generally simple, alternate to whorled, generally stipuled, sessile or petioled; blade entire, toothed, or lobed. Inflorescence: flowers solitary or in terminal or axillary cymes, racemes, spikes, or panicles, or (in Euphorbia) 1° inflorescence a compact, flower-like cyathium with much-reduced flowers enclosed within an involucre of fused bracts, cyathia terminal or axillary, 1 or in cyme-like arrays. Flower: unisexual, +- radial; sepals 0 or 2--6, free or fused; petals generally 0(5); stamens 1--many, free or filaments fused; ovary superior, chambers (1)3(4), styles free or fused, undivided, forked, or variously lobed. Fruit: generally capsule that splits into mericarps that then dehisce, releasing seeds. Seed: 1 per chamber; knob-like appendage sometimes present at attachment scar.
Genera In Family: 217 genera, 6000+ species: +- worldwide especially tropics; some cultivated (Aleurites, tung oil; Euphorbia species; Hevea, rubber; Ricinus). Toxicity: Many species +- highly TOXIC, due primarily to latex, especially if eaten or in contact with skin, eyes. Note: Eremocarpus moved to Croton, Tetracoccus moved to Picrodendraceae for TJM2; Chamaesyce moved to Euphorbia here (key to genera revised by Thomas J. Rosatti).
eFlora Treatment Author: Mark H. Mayfield & Grady L. Webster, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: RicinusView Description 

Common Name: CASTOR BEAN

Species In Genus: 1 sp. Etymology: (Latin: tick, from seed shape)

Ricinus communis L.
Habit: Shrub, occasionally tree-like, 1--3 m, +- glabrous; sap clear; monoecious. Stem: trunk ascending to erect, branched above. Leaf: cauline, alternate, peltate; stipules fused, 1--1.5 cm, sheath-like, deciduous; petiole 1--3 dm, glandular distally; blade 1--5 dm, +- round, palmately 7--11-lobed, sharply toothed. Inflorescence: panicle, terminal, 1--3 dm; staminate flowers proximal to pistillate flowers. Staminate Flower: sepals 3--5; stamens many, clustered; nectary 0. Pistillate Flower: sepals 3--5; ovary 3-chambered, bristly, styles 2-lobed, plumose, +- red. Fruit: 1.2--2 cm diam, +- spiny. Seed: 9--22 mm, smooth, shiny, mottled; scar appendaged. Chromosomes: 2n=20.
Ecology: Disturbed areas; Elevation: < 300 m. Bioregional Distribution: GV, CCo, SCo, expected elsewhere; Distribution Outside California: eastern United States; native to Europe. Toxicity: Highly TOXIC: seeds attractive to children, fatal when ingested. Flowering Time: All year
eFlora Treatment Author: Mark H. Mayfield & Grady L. Webster
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botanical illustration including Ricinus communis


Citation for this treatment: Mark H. Mayfield & Grady L. Webster 2016. Ricinus communis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 23, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 23, 2016.

Ricinus communis
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© 2013 Keir Morse
Ricinus communis
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© 2013 Keir Morse
Ricinus communis
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© 2011 Neal Kramer
Ricinus communis
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© 2009 Thomas Stoughton
Ricinus communis
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ricinus communis
click for enlargement
© 2013 Keir Morse

More photos of Ricinus communis in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ricinus communis:
GV, CCo, SCo, expected elsewhere;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

View elevation by latitude chart
Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.