Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Plant Deer Will Not Damage

Ricinus communis, Castor Bean Plant.

Ricinus communis, Castor Bean Plant.

As a follow up to my previous post on Datura stramonium, here is another beauty I grew this past summer.  Hard to believe that this plant is the product of one bean seed.  I sowed the seeds directly in the ground early June.  (I tried much earlier, in May, but they went to waste, as the ground has to be fairly warm for the seeds to germinate)  Castor Bean thrives in a sunny location and well drained soil.  Plants grew to six feet tall by August, each leaf easily 18 to 20 inches across.  Sadly, I had to pull them to make room for my blueberry patch which I planted in early September.

Every part of this plant is toxic, but the seeds are deadly.  They contain ricin and just one seed is enough to kill a horse.  Fortunately for us in the North, our season is not long enough for the seed pods to mature on the plant and broadcast seeds like it does in the South or in its native South Africa, care should be taken if storing seeds to keep them clearly labeled and in a secure place.

I loved this plant in my garden, in full sun it provides an interesting specimen or as a group it can create a good screen in areas where deer are a problem and you want to restrict deer traffic without damage.  As an annual, I find  it to be a great filler in an immature  border while newly planted trees and shrubs fill in.

I saved seeds from the largest plants so if you want to experiment and want some let me know.

I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.
David Hobson