Ricinus communis is the only species in this genus and it is an eye-catcher. It is an evergreen, vigorous shrub native to northeastern Africa and western Asia that is cultivated mainly for its palmate, glossy foliage. It is striking as a specimen plant or in a cool greenhouse. All parts are highly toxic if ingested.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsVery fast-growing. Evergreen, large, glossy leaves. Highly toxic.
CareIn the garden, grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun and stake if necessary. Poor soils produce smaller and fewer leaves and more flowers. In a cool greenhouse, grow in full light and water freely during the growing season. Fertilize monthly.
PropagationSoak seed for a day before sowing in 3.5-inch pots in spring. Plant out or transplant to 5-inch pots before they become pot-bound, or plants may flower prematurely. Plant out after frost-free date.
ProblemsSpider mites, gray mold, seedling blight, charcoal rot, bacterial wilt, and bacterial leaf spot.