Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jack and the Castor Bean Stalk

Jack and the Bean Stalk is a children's fairy tale in which a giant bean stalk sprouts up from a few magic beans.  When I think about the Castor Bean plant, I can see how legends such as Jack's bean stalk might have come about.

Castor bean may not be Jack's Bean Stalk, but how many other plants can you start from seed in spring and end up with a 10-15 foot tall plant by the end of summer?  Even in a droughty year with little water, the tallest castor bean plant in my garden measured in at over 9 feet tall. 

Castor bean (Ricinus Communis) has large palmate leaves with a distinctly tropical feel.  Grown as an annual in zone 8, the castor bean plant will make your garden feel lush with it's abundant foliage.

Separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant, but the seeds pods are the real attention grabbers.  

The developing seed pods are prolific, showy and colorful.

Flowers and seed pods continue to develop throughout the summer and into the fall.

The dried pods cling to the plant in clusters that are easily harvested.

Each seed pod has 3 segments, which can be easily separated.  The segments can be split open revealing one seed per segment.

A word of warning about this plant.  All parts of this plant are poisonous, but the seeds are particularly deadly if consumed.  Special care should be used to keep this plant out of the reach of children and pets.


  1. good job on the blogging challenge - I hadn't seen that squirrel....I didn't know about the castor bean...and think that your greenhouse is AWESOME! Nice blog : ) Cyndi

  2. That's a lovely plant. I had no idea they could get that tall.
    Cindy S.