CASTOR DATABASE


Castor

Ricinus communis

        The castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It belongs to a monotypic genus, Ricinus, and subtribe, Ricininae. The evolution of castor and its relation to other species are currently being studied using modern genetic tools.Its seed is the castor bean, which, despite its name, is not a true bean. Castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions (and widely grown elsewhere as an ornamental plant).Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein. The seed contains ricin, a toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant.Although castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, today it is widespread throughout tropical regions.

In areas with a suitable climate, castor establishes itself easily where it can become an invasive plant and can often be found on wasteland.It is also used extensively as a decorative plant in parks and other public areas, particularly as a "dot plant" in traditional bedding schemes. If sown early, under glass, and kept at a temperature of around 20 C (68 F) until planted out, the castor oil plant can reach a height of 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 ft) in a year. In areas prone to frost it is usually shorter, and grown as if it were an annual.