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Lancashire, United Kingdom Gb

Ricinus Communis - I have been thinking about buying some seed of this, (i particularly like the red/purple leaved one but not sure which variety this is), as most people seem to recommend it as an annual, it will look lovely in the new design we are currently creating. My only reservation is that we have 3 cats who are always in the garden, plus there are a lot of neighbouring cats who wander through from time to time. I know its a poisonous plant. Will the cats ignore it, or should i stay clear of it?



I would steer clear with the cats about.Castor beans affect all animals and humans. Even one of them may be sufficient to cause death. They contain some of the strongest toxins of our planet’s flora: the alkaloid ricinin and the toxalbumin ricin, the latter being a plant lectin, or protein, more toxic even than strychnos and cyanides.The KGB used the toxin for assasinating people with.They are a tropical plant and would not survive our winter outside so that is why we grow them as an annual.

27 Feb, 2011


Thanks Steve. I wont both with them then. Not worth the risk. Thanks for replying.

27 Feb, 2011


Ask yourself this simple question - Would lots of local authorities grow Ricinus communis in public parks, on verges and roundabouts if it were dangerous?

There is a big difference between being poisonous and being harmful. The ricin is in the castor bean which, on the plant, is inside the spiky fruit. How likely are cats to get a fruit, peel it to get to the bean and then eat the bean?

Even if they did, they'd end up with a bad stomach upset. Ingested ricin is a strong emetic and is very rarely fatal (15 deaths out of 851 incidents in the period 1900-1985).

You say other people's cats come into your garden. Well. your cat goes into other gardens that may well have Ricinus communis.

It's a beautiful plant and well worth growing.

28 Feb, 2011


Agree wholeheartedly with Thepoisongardener. Yes, we all know about ricin, it is lethal, but it has to be distilled from the beans, so unless your cats are in the habit of setting up chemical stills, there won't be a problem.

28 Feb, 2011


Good point Poisongardener. I hadnt thought about it from that perspective. Thanks you for your points, and i will now consider it again. Bamboo, thanks for your comment too. As much as i love the cats, i dont think they are clever enough to set up chemical stills lol!

6 Mar, 2011

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