How to Assassinate a Duck

Ricinus communis, the Castor bean plant. Photos taken early morning...

And mid-afternoon.

This vigorous shrub requires full sun, lots of water, and lots of fertilizer. In summer it should be placed outdoors, where it may grow as much as 10 feet in a season. Watch out for the seed pods in fall, as they are extremely poisonous. According to Wikipedia, it takes 5 castor oil seeds to kill a sheep, but 80 to kill a duck. Who figures these things out? Mad scientists who are bored on sabbatical?

This isn't a particularly common houseplant, and it certainly can achieve an ugly, leggy habit indoors without proper care. Still, I couldn't resist that crazy Quinacridone-violet color. It's as lovely as a painting, and I can't wait for it to explode with growth this spring.


  1. I've thought about trying to grow these indoors, but didn't figure it was possible. Now that I know it's possible . . . I'm still hesitant. Are they prone to mites, like other really poisonous plants? (Adenium, Datura, Brugmansia, etc.)

  2. I have no idea! Good question. I'm hoping that spending the summer outdoors soaked in sun will make my Ricinus a little more robust and resistant... I'll keep an eye out for mites.

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