Rounded, prickly seed pods follow the summer display of felty
clusters of red and greenish flowers. The plants leaves are large,
glossy and divided deeply into elliptical lobes.
All parts of the plant, especially the seeds, are extremely
poisonous and can cause death in children.
Cultivation: This plant prefers full sun and fertile, humus-rich,
well-drained soil. It may need staking. Propagate from seed.
Considered anodyne, antidote, aperient, bactericide, cathartic,
cyanogenetic, discutient, emetic, emollient, expectorant,
insecticide, lactagogue, larvicidal, laxative, POISON, purgative,
tonic, and vermifuge, castor or castoroil is a dangerous ingredient
in folk remedies for abscess, anasarca, arthritis, asthma, boils,
burns, cancer, carbuncles, catarrh, chancre, cholera, cold, colic,
convulsions, corns, craw-craw, deafness, delirium, dermatitis,
dogbite, dropsy, epilepsy, erysipelas, fever, flu, gout, guineaworm,
headache, inflammation, moles, myalgia, nerves, osteomyelitis,
palsy, parturition, prolapse, puerperium, rash, rheumatism, scald,
scrofula, seborrhea, skin, sores, stomachache, strabismus,
swellings, toothaches, tuberculosis, tumors, urethritis, uteritis,
venereal disease, warts, whitlows, and wounds. The oil and seed have
been used as folk remedies for: warts, cold tumors, indurations of
the abdominal organs, whitlows, lacteal tumors, indurations of the
mammary gland, corns, and moles, etc. Castor-oil is a cathartic and
has labor-inducing properties. Ricinoleic acid has served in
contraceptive jellies. Ricin, a toxic protein in the seeds, acts as
a blood coagulant. Oil used externally for dermatitis and eye
ailments. Seeds, which yield 45–50% of a fixed oil, also contain the
alkaloids ricinine and toxalbumin ricin, and considered purgative,
counter-irritant in scorpion-sting and fish poison. Leaves applied
to the head to relieve headache and as a poultice for boils.