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Hi everyone :) - Advice Needed on Castor Oil Plant

I've just joined this forum after finding you when searching for info on the following & I'm hoping someone here can advise me, as I'm finding info on the internet a bit confusing.

I bought a nice looking leafy plant yesterday at a local fete for a bargain price, chatting to the woman running the stall it seems its a *Castor Oil Plant* & would suite the climate in my back yard/patio & I had intended to re plant out there.

However I'm now a bit worried, as after googling on how to best replant & care for it, seems its "highly toxic" lots of scary articles on the seeds producing Ricin etc etc.

I've had someone else tell me that its probably a "FAKE" as they don't believe the real ones are allowed in the UK - but the google images I've looked at of the "Real" ones seem to have the same red upper leaves as this one does

I have 2 Cats who love to laze around in our yard & sit amongst the plants in a large 2 tier stone planter that I built last year - one likes to dig occasionally too, so having a "highly toxic" plant out there could be a big worry.

Can anyone please tell me if I need to worry about this plant with our cats, for example if it flowers could the pollen be toxic if it gets onto fur as some Lilly's can be

Thank You



I do not know the science of these things, so cannot comment on the 'safety' of these plants.

However, I do know that they are a widespread garden plant and in all my years, have never heard of any ill-effects for animal or human, in growing them. I think you should just .. enjoy.

9 Jul, 2012


Castor oil plant is Ricinus communis whereas false castor oil plant is Fatsia japonica.

If you still have the plant label see if that gives the botanical name.

Garden centres don't seem to like labelling a plant as 'false' so most sell the false castor oil plant under the botanical name.

Ricinus communis is in Class 'B' of the Horticultural Trades Association list of potentially harmful plants and it should say that on the label.

There is no ban on growing Ricinus communis in the UK and many local authorities plant it as the centrepiece of municipal flower beds.

That should answer your question about risk to animals.

The ricin is found in the seeds. For an animal to get to it it would have to break through the spiky and tough outer casing of the fruit and then crush the seed. A whole seed would, probably, pass through undigested.

Even if an animal did all that and got to the ricin the chances are they would vomit and expel the toxin.

Ricin is highly toxic but a lot less harmful than many people believe because of the emetic nature.

9 Jul, 2012


Thank You!! - Both of you, that has put my mind at rest :)

The plant was bought at a School Fete, (parents & local businesses donate cuttings, seedlings, plants etc) so bar a bit of masking tape with the name written on it, theres was no info on it at all, the lady running the stall is a keen gardener & did give me a lot of advice on how well it would cope outside, but it was only on googling for more info on how best to replant that I came across all the toxic scare stories on the "net" - hence the worry,

Thanks again - I know the Fastia Japonicas, as I was looking at those recently & this is a bit different, so suspect it IS a real one, but if councils are planting them, then theres obviously no threat to animals - Brilliant, as I really like it - lets just hope I can keep it alive now :)

9 Jul, 2012


i think if you looked at how edible a lot of plants are youd be surprised but most animals will spit out anything not so nice or smell it and leave it alone . children are the worst things with nice looking berries etc realy as a rule of thumb .

9 Jul, 2012


If you examine your garden you will probably, like the rest of us, find that many of the plants are poisonous, but you don't do a body count every day. One I don't like is the Euphoria because of the latex, but I doubt very much if animals will touch it.

10 Jul, 2012


Thanks both of you - I've Honeysuckle, fushia & Tomatoes out there too, so yes other toxic stuff already planted, so I do know there are plenty of other toxic plants & you are right about animals not touching them - our old Rabbit would eat any of it given the chance, but never nibbled on the toxic stuff

It was more the scare stories about just HOW toxic this particular plant can be & my not knowing how that toxin works - I was concerned that as I was reading stuff saying its the most toxic plant known - etc etc (sounds like rubbish now though) it might be like some Lilly's, where pets getting the pollen on their fur & cleaning themselves could be fatal

I'm now looking forward to planting it :) - if this damned bad weather ever lets up - more baad storms forecast here tonight & the rain has been so heavy its throwing the soil out of my pots & planters :-/

10 Jul, 2012


you took the words out of my mouth just better cutsandgraz lol .i like the body count part lol .

10 Jul, 2012

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