Common names: castor bean, palm of Christ, mole bush
General Description: The bean is native to the tropics of Africa and Asia, but is cultivated as a garden and landscape plant through the world. This shrub (or small tree) is large and evergreen, growing in zones 10 and 11. In cooler regions, Castor bean is grown as an annual. It is considered an ornamental, and may be planted indoors as well as out. It is herbaceous, but when it matures, it becomes woody.
Uses: The bean is a member of the Euphorbia (Spurge) family. Like most Euphorbias, the sap is highly caustic and is considered a poison. The pollen is an allergenic. However, appropriately processed there are a number of valuable uses for this plant. Castor oil is derived from these beans; It is used extensively in medicine, and in various applications in the industrial world (varnishes, paints, polyurethane coatings, plastics, transport, cosmetics, textiles, leathers, lubricants and lamp oil) as well as numerous other industrial and manufacturing processes. Castor Oil Pomace is a substance that results from crushing the bean; The Pomace is used as a high-nitrogen fertilizer. In medicine, Castor Oil is a cathartic and has been used for many years to induce labor.
The leaves of the Castor bean are big and star-shaped-a very attractive plant. It has been referred to as the ‘mole bush’ because of its natural ability to repel moles. Castor bean is grown broadly in the southern United States, where it was introduced and naturalized several decades ago. Florida’s Nursery Grewer’s Association Board of Directors voted to no longer propagate, sell or use Castor bean in Florida. This is one of 34 species upon which such action was taken in 2001. Because Castor bean flowers throughout the year, it is difficult to control and has become invasive in fields and along roadsides in disturbed areas below 1000 feet.
Disclaimer: The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Any reference to medicinal use is not intended to treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.