Castor bean or Castor oil plant is a fast growing, full-sun, annual blooming all around Austin right now. Its glossy, coarsely toothed segmented leaves range from reddish purple to dark green in color depending on maturity and cultivation. The fruit is a spiny, red capsule containing shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds with variable brownish spots.
Although, the beans are highly toxic if consumed whole, they can be cold-pressed into a highly medicinal oil. This powerful medicinal oil aids in digestive and arthritic diseases, treats warts, cysts, and moles, and used in eye ointments for inflammation. Cleopatra is reputed to have used it to brighten the whites of her eyes!
Castor bean has a distinctive tropical appeal. Consider adding it to your garden for its color, texture, and abundance!