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Datasheet

Ricinus communis (castor bean)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Ricinus communis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • castor bean
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • R. communis is a fast-growing shrub or small tree which is a highly prolific and precocious producer of toxic seeds, very adaptable to different environments and has been widely distributed by man. It is report...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
TitleFoliage
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Foliage©K.M. Siddiqui
Flowering shoot of R. communis. Panicles are erect, terminal, later somewhat lateral by overtopping, up to 40 cm long, usually glaucous, with unisexual flowers, male flowers towards the base, female ones towards the top.
TitleFlowering
CaptionFlowering shoot of R. communis. Panicles are erect, terminal, later somewhat lateral by overtopping, up to 40 cm long, usually glaucous, with unisexual flowers, male flowers towards the base, female ones towards the top.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Flowering shoot of R. communis. Panicles are erect, terminal, later somewhat lateral by overtopping, up to 40 cm long, usually glaucous, with unisexual flowers, male flowers towards the base, female ones towards the top.
FloweringFlowering shoot of R. communis. Panicles are erect, terminal, later somewhat lateral by overtopping, up to 40 cm long, usually glaucous, with unisexual flowers, male flowers towards the base, female ones towards the top.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Fruiting shoot of R. communis. Fruits are ellipsoid to subglobose, 15-25 mm long, brown, spiny or smooth.
TitleFruits
CaptionFruiting shoot of R. communis. Fruits are ellipsoid to subglobose, 15-25 mm long, brown, spiny or smooth.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Fruiting shoot of R. communis. Fruits are ellipsoid to subglobose, 15-25 mm long, brown, spiny or smooth.
FruitsFruiting shoot of R. communis. Fruits are ellipsoid to subglobose, 15-25 mm long, brown, spiny or smooth.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Castor bean crop in South Africa.
TitleCrop
CaptionCastor bean crop in South Africa.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Castor bean crop in South Africa.
CropCastor bean crop in South Africa.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
R. communis: 1, branch with leaves;  2, inflorescence;  3, infructescence; 4, seed.

Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols. 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
TitleLine drawing detailing plant parts
CaptionR. communis: 1, branch with leaves; 2, inflorescence; 3, infructescence; 4, seed. Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols. 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
CopyrightPROSEA Foundation
R. communis: 1, branch with leaves;  2, inflorescence;  3, infructescence; 4, seed.

Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols. 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
Line drawing detailing plant partsR. communis: 1, branch with leaves; 2, inflorescence; 3, infructescence; 4, seed. Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols. 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.PROSEA Foundation

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Ricinus communis L.

Preferred Common Name

  • castor bean

International Common Names

  • English: castor; castor oil; castoroil plant; castor-oil plant; palma christi
  • Spanish: hierba mora; higuera del diablo; ricino; ricino comun; tartago
  • French: grande epurge; ricin; ricin commun
  • Chinese: bima; hongbima; hongdamazi; tianmaziguo
  • Portuguese: mamoeiro

Local Common Names

  • : aceite de castor; aceite de ricino; planta de castor
  • Australia: African coffee tree; castor bean; castor oil bush; castor oil tree; castorbean tree; maple weed; Palma Christi; wonder tree
  • Brazil: carrapateiro; carrapato; catapucia-maior; caturra; mamona; mamoneira; palma-de-cristo; rícino; tortago
  • Cambodia: lohong khnhe; lohong khvâang
  • Cuba: carrapa; higuereta; palma christi; ricino verde
  • Denmark: wooderboom
  • Dominican Republic: higuera; higuereta; huile mascrista
  • Germany: Rizinus; Rizinus-pflanze; wanderbaum
  • Haiti: huile montecristi; huile ricin; mascarite; mascristi; palma cristi
  • India: haralu
  • Indonesia: jarak
  • Italy: palma christi; ricino commune
  • Jamaica: oil nut
  • Japan: hima
  • Laos: castor bean; castor-oil-plant; hungx saa; huong
  • Lesser Antilles: carapate; gwen makwisti; pyé gwenn
  • Malaysia: jarak
  • Mexico: higuerilla; palmacristi
  • Netherlands: wonderboom
  • Philippines: tangan-tangan
  • Sri Lanka: amanaku maram
  • Thailand: lahung; mahung
  • Vietnam: daudan; thâu dâù

EPPO code

  • RIICO (Ricinus communis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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R. communis is a fast-growing shrub or small tree which is a highly prolific and precocious producer of toxic seeds, very adaptable to different environments and has been widely distributed by man. It is reported invasive or weedy in many countries particularly in the tropics and since dense thickets shade out native flora it is able to have negative impacts on biodiversity. Weed risk assessments in the USA and Caribbean have rejected its use as a bioenergy crop due to its high invasive potential (Gordon et al., 2011; Bridgemohan and Bridgemohan, 2014).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Euphorbiales
  •                         Family: Euphorbiaceae
  •                             Genus: Ricinus
  •                                 Species: Ricinus communis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The Family Euphorbiacea includes 218 genera and 6745 species distributed worldwide. The genus Ricinus L. is considered to be monotypic (R. communis) and is included in the subfamily Acalyphoideae which included about 99 genera and 1865 species. Previously described species within the genus Ricinus have been transferred to other genera or grouped within R. communis. Some are large perennials, others behave as short-lived dwarf annuals and every gradation between them can be found. Colour differences in leaves, stems and inflorescences have resulted in selection of these variants as horticultural plants. However, attempts to classify such selections as subspecies are botanically inaccurate. In most countries 'red' and 'white' types are distinguished based on the colour of young shoots. Within these, forms or cultivars are recognized based on seed characteristics. 

Description

Top of page An evergreen glabrous, soft-woody shrub or small tree, often grown as annual, 1-5 m tall, with a strong tap-root and prominent lateral roots. Shoots usually glaucous, variously green or red. Occasional glands at nodes, petioles and main axes of inflorescences. Stem and branches with conspicuous nodes and ringlike scars of the bracts. Leaves spirally arranged, dark green when old; stipules 1-3 cm long, united to a sheathing bud, deciduous; petiole round, 3.5-50 cm long; blade peltate, 10-70 cm across, membranous, palmate with 5-11 acuminate, serrate lobes.

Panicles erect, terminal, later somewhat lateral by overtopping, up to 40 cm long, usually glaucous, with unisexual flowers, male flowers towards the base, female ones towards the top. Flowers shortly pedicelled in lateral cymes, 1-1.5 cm diameter, with 3-5 acute calyx lobes; corolla absent; male flowers with many stamens in branched bundles; female flowers with early caducous sepals; ovary superior with three 1-ovuled cells, usually soft spiny; styles 3, red or green, 2-cleft. Fruits ellipsoid to subglobose, 15-25 mm long, brown, spiny or smooth. Seeds ellipsoid, 9-17 mm long, compressed, with a brittle, mottled, shining seedcoat and with a caruncle at the base; endosperm copious, white; cotyledons thin.

Seedling epigeal; cotyledons petioled, broadly oblong, up to 7 cm long, flat, with entire margin; first leaves opposite.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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R. communis is probably a native to North-Eastern Africa (i.e., Ethiopia and Somalia). Currently, naturalized populations of R. communis can be found across the African continent, from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, from Tunisia to South Africa and on islands in the Indian Ocean. It is widely cultivated and naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions of America and Asia and in many temperate areas of Europe. It naturalizes easily and grows in many areas as a common ruderal plant (DAISIE, 2014; Govaerts, 2014; PROTA, 2014).   

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Holm et al., 1979
BahrainPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
CambodiaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AnhuiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-FujianPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-GuangdongPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-GuangxiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-GuizhouPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-HainanPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-HebeiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008
-HeilongjiangPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008
-HenanPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-HubeiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-HunanPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-JiangsuPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-JiangxiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-JilinPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-LiaoningPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-Nei MengguPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-ShaanxiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-ShandongPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-ShanxiPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-SichuanPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-YunnanPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
-ZhejiangPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber et al., 2008Cultivated and naturalized
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Cocos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-AssamPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-BiharPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-ChandigarhPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Dadra and Nagar HaveliPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-DamanPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-DelhiPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-DiuPresentIntroducedCultivated and naturalized
-GoaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-GujaratPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-HaryanaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Indian PunjabPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-KeralaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-LakshadweepPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-ManipurPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-MeghalayaPresentIntroducedCultivated and naturalized
-MizoramPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-NagalandPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-OdishaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-RajasthanPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-SikkimPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-TripuraPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-West BengalPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Irian JayaPresent Planted
-JavaPresent Planted
-KalimantanPresent Planted
-MoluccasPresent Planted
-SulawesiPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
-SumatraPresent Planted
IranPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
IsraelPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Holm et al., 1979
JapanPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
JordanPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
Korea, DPRPresentIntroduced Planted
MalaysiaWidespreadIntroduced Planted
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent Planted
-SabahPresent Planted
-SarawakPresent Planted
MaldivesPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
NepalPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
PakistanPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
QatarPresentIntroduced Planted Govaerts, 2014
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroduced Planted
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Chong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive Wu et al., 2004
ThailandPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
TurkeyPresentIntroduced Invasive Govaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
AngolaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
BeninPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
BotswanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Buss, 2002
Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
BurundiPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
Central African RepublicPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
ChadPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; Govaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
DjiboutiPresentGovaerts, 2014Probably native
EgyptPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
EthiopiaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2013
GabonPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
GambiaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
GhanaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
GuineaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
Guinea-BissauPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
LibyaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
MaliPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
MauritaniaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
MoroccoPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
NamibiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Bethune et al., 2004; Henschel and Parr, 2010
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
RwandaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
SenegalPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
SeychellesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
SomaliaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2014
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henderson, 2007Cultivated and naturalized
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
TogoPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
TunisiaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, 2014
Western SaharaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014Cultivated and naturalized
ZambiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
ZimbabwePresent Planted Holm et al., 1979

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ManitobaPresentIntroduced Planted
MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Miller et al., 2002; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-NRCS, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OhioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Cronk and Fuller, 1995
ArubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentIntroduced
BonairePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Guana, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Chacón and Saborío, 2012
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
CuraçaoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Holm et al., 1979
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
MontserratPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
PanamaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2002; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Cultivated and naturalized. St Thomas, St Croix, St John

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Argentina, 2014
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AcrePresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-AmapaPresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-AmazonasPresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-BahiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Cordeiro, 2014; I3N-Brasil, 2014
-CearaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2014
-GoiasPresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-MaranhaoPresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroduced Invasive Cordeiro, 2014; I3N-Brasil, 2014
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-ParaPresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-ParaibaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-ParanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-PernambucoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-PiauiPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-RondoniaPresentIntroduced Planted Cordeiro, 2014
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedCordeiro, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
-SergipePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted I3N-Brasil, 2014
ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Holm et al., 1979Invasive also on J. Fernandez Island
-Easter IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Holm et al., 1979
EcuadorPresentIntroduced Invasive IABIN, 2014
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Invasive IABIN, 2014
UruguayPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; IABIN, 2014
VenezuelaPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979

Europe

AustriaPresent Planted
BelgiumPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
BulgariaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
CroatiaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
CyprusPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
DenmarkPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
EstoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
FrancePresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
-CorsicaPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
GreecePresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
HungaryPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
ItalyPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-SardiniaPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
-SicilyPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
LithuaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
MaltaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
PolandPresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
-MadeiraPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2014
RomaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
SpainPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Institute Hórus de Desenvolvimento and Ambient Con, 2003
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
SwedenPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
UKPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
-England and WalesPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
-ScotlandPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentIntroduced Planted Holm et al., 1979

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Space and Flynn, 1999
AustraliaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted NWSEC, 1998
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted NWSEC, 1998
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Cronk and Fuller, 1995
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; PIER, 2014
French PolynesiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2014
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2014
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Planted PIER, 2014
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Planted
NauruPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Holm et al., 1979
NiuePresentIntroduced Planted Space and Flynn, 2000; PIER, 2014
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Planted PIER, 2014
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
SamoaPresentIntroduced Planted
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014Cultivated
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Planted
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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R. communis naturalizes easily and is found in the drier areas of many tropical and subtropical countries. It was cultivated for its oil in Egypt as long as 6000 years ago and from here it spread through the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia, the Far East and India at an early date. Deacon (1986) summarizes the evidence for the very early introduction of this species into South Africa, with a number of archaeological records dating as far back as the Stone Age. In the USA, this species was first documented in Florida in the 1760s (Langeland et al., 2008) and by 1819 it is listed as naturalized in Hawaii (Motooka et al., 2003). In the West Indies, R. communis was first recorded in 1822 in Martinique and in 1883 on US Virgin Islands (St Thomas; US National Herbarium). Buurt (1999) noted that it was introduced to Curaçao and Bermuda from the Old World, but he did not provide dates of introduction for those islands.  

Risk of Introduction

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R. communis has a very widespread distribution as a weed of greater or lesser importance and the long history of cultivation across the world would suggest that it is already present in the majority of countries where it is likely to grow. In these cases there should be vigilance to look for the earliest signs of invasive behaviour in the wild. Plants produce large numbers of seeds which are explosively released when the fruit are mature, thereby aiding their spread. Humans also spread the seeds both intentionally for cultivation or unintentionally in dumped garden waste, mud, soil and on vehicles and machinery. The plant shows phenotypic plasticity, and adapts to different habitat types (Neha Goyal et al., 2014). Therefore, the risk of introduction and colonization of this species into new habitats remains high.

Due to its noted invasiveness, R. communis is a regulated weed in several countries. In South Africa, R. communis is a declared category 2 invader under the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (Henderson, 2001). It is one of a number of species showing a degree of invasive behaviour in Botswana (Buss, 2002). In Australia it is a category W2 weed (which must be destroyed) in parts of New South Wales and is a category B/C weed in Northern Territory (National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee (NWSEC), 1998). In the USA, it is a category 2 invasive plant (i.e. not yet thought to have altered the native assemblage) in Florida (Miller et al., 2002) and a B list invasive (plant of lesser invasiveness) in California (California Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1999). Weed risk assessments carried out to assess its potential as a bioenergy species in the Caribbean (Bridgemohan and Bridgemohan, 2014) and Florida (Gordon et al., 2011) have advised against using for bioenergy in these locations due to high risks of becoming invasive.

Habitat

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In its exotic range R. communis invades grasslands, heathlands, riparian communities, disturbed land and farmland (Weber, 2003). In South Africa, Henderson (2001) also reports it from road margins and wasteland. A degree of disturbance appears particularly important in the establishment of this species (Weber, 2003) and the disturbance factor is mentioned in association with its colonization of vegetation in South Africa and Hawaii (Cronk and Fuller, 2003). In Brazil it invades farmland and adjacent areas, rubbish tips and disturbed soil and is one of the first species to colonize burned land, and in Spain it can invade sand dunes, Mediterranean shrublands, and arid and semiarid vegetation (Institute Hórus de Desenvolvimento and Ambient Conservaçao, 2003).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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Although R. communis may occasionally invade agricultural land, it is principally an environmental weed.

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for R. communis is 2 n = 20. All natural forms of R. communis are diploid, crossing freely and are fully fertile. The frequency of natural out-crossing is commonly between 5-50%, but in some dwarf cultivars it may be as high as 90-100%. A large number of varieties and cultivars have been produced and commercialized around the world. The use of male-sterile and female-sterile lines is of great value in breeding. Selection of strains with only male or female flowers allowed commercial production of specific hybrids. Traditional long-term selection has mostly tended to focus on problems associated with mechanical production such as annual, dwarf plant architecture, indehiscent, thin-hulled and sparsely spiny fruits, maturing synchronously. The main aims of modern castor breeding are for high seed yield, high oil content and high ricinoleic acid content, easy harvesting and resistance to pests.


Reproductive Biology

The flowers of R. communis are monoecious (Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 2002). Pollen is mainly shed in the morning and flowers are wind-pollinated and capable of self- and cross-pollination. Each plant produces large quantities of seed with germination rates ranging from 83% to 90%. It may reproduce at any time of year (Cronk and Fuller 1995) and seed production may be highly precocious, for example, flowering within 6 months of germination is possible (Institute Hórus de Desenvolvimento and Ambient Conservaçao, 2003). Average seed yields are between 400 and 1000 kg/ha seeds with maximum yields of approximately 3000 kg/ha.

Physiology and Phenology

Seedlings emerge 10-20 days after sowing. The first flowers open 40-70 days after sowing. The successive formation of branches and inflorescences continues through the plant's life. One plant thus bears flowers in different stages of development. The period from emergence to maturation varies from 140 to 170 days. Ripening of fruits along the raceme is uneven, the lower maturing before the upper, and in wild types the period between first and last mature fruits may be several weeks. It is a relatively short-lived plant, living for two or three years (Institute Hórus de Desenvolvimento and Ambient Conservaçao, 2003).

Environmental Requirements

R. communis is a long-day plant but is adaptable to a fairly wide day-length range. It grows throughout the warm-temperate and tropical regions. It has been commercially cultivated from 40°S to 52°N, from sea level to 2000 m at the equator, with an optimum between 300-1500 m, the limiting factor being frost. Suitable soil temperatures for germination are between 10-18°C, and average day temperatures of 20-26°C with a minimum of 15°C and a maximum of 38°C, with low humidity. Established plants prefer sunny areas and tolerate high temperatures. This species does not tolerate frost and in temperate areas populations are often short lived and grow as annuals. It also tolerates dry-arid conditions and grows in semi-arid and arid soils with poor water retention ability. R. communis grows on sandy loam and clay with low nutrient soils, acidic to alkaline conditions and pH ranging from 4.5 to 8 (Langeland et al., 2008), but does best on deep sandy loams with pH 5-6.5. Soils should also be well drained, and not saline.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30 -10 0 2000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -15 -10
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 5 25
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 17 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -1 17

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration05number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall7002300mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Few diseases are of economic importance. Normally, serious attacks only occur in R. communis crops growing poorly and under humid conditions. The most damaging pathogens attacking seedlings are various rots ('damping off' caused by Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Sclerotium, Phytophthora). The most common foliar disease is a rust caused by Melampsora ricini which now probably occurs worldwide. Cercospora ricinella, a leaf-spot disease, can become locally damaging in Indonesia. Of the capsule diseases, Alternaria spp. and Botrytis spp. are the most serious. Probably the most damaging pests are those attacking the inflorescence, such as mirids (Helopeltis spp.). Peach moth (Conogethes punctiferalis) is a most important pest in India and throughout South-East Asia.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Gravity disperses seeds from the pods when the ripe pods explode open (Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 2002). Birds, rodents, other mammals and humans spread the seeds (Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 2002; Weber, 2003), and the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (2002) regard man as the main dispersal agent. The species is very widely distributed internationally as a result of intentional introduction, and has been widely planted for the production of castor oil; it has been able to escape into the wild from such plantings.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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There is no precise information on economic impacts of invasion available; however, any control operation incurs a financial cost. This will need to be weighed against the positive impacts from production of the commercial crop. It is also important to consider that R. communis is extremely poisonous to animals and humans and pollen causes respiratory allergies in humans.  

Environmental Impact

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The environmental impact results from the dense thickets formed by this species which shade out native vegetation (Weber, 2003). R. communis is a highly invasive species in South Africa, where it is included in the “top ten” list of invasive plants. In South Africa this species represents a serious problem on savannas, riparian and wetland habitats (Henderson, 2007). It is also showing a degree of invasive behaviour in Botswana (Buss, 2002). In Australia it is a category W2 weed (which must be destroyed) in parts of New South Wales and is a category B/C weed in Northern Territory (National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee (NWSEC), 1998) and in both areas it invades floodplains and coastal dunes. In the USA, it is a category 2 invasive plant (i.e. not yet thought to have altered the native assemblage) in Florida (Miller et al., 2002) and a B list invasive (plant of lesser invasiveness) in California (California Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1999). In Hawaii, this species is invading native dryland forests and altering successional process along riparian areas. It is also listed as invasive in Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Cuba where it is invading principally dry forests and native shrublands. Once established, R communis rapidly colonizes disturbed sites, and quickly forms large populations that outcompete native vegetation (Langeland et al., 2008). 

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Phyllostegia parviflora (smallflower phyllostegia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified); Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008
Platydesma rostrataCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Silene lanceolata (Kauai catchfly)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
Stenogyne purpurea (purplefruit stenogyne)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Tetraplasandra flynniiNational list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995

Social Impact

Top of page It is highly poisonous and the seeds are particularly dangerous (Henderson, 2001) and are likely to constitute a hazard for children and animals.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Induces hypersensitivity
  • Poisoning
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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The seed oil is the most important product of castor. All over the world, the traditional use is for illumination and medicine, the first being obsolete since the introduction of kerosene and electricity. The medicinal use of the oil and of other parts of the plant is still common, especially as a purge (internally) and for various sores (externally). At present, the oil is produced mainly as basic material for industry, particularly as a lubricant. The presscake is poisonous and cannot be fed to animals. It is used as fertilizer or as fuel. The castor oil also has commercial value for making soap, margarine, lubricants, paints, inks, plastics, and linoleum. The crop is also regarded as a useful feedstock for biodiesel production (Okechukwu et al., 2015; Razzazi et al., 2015).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Invertebrate food for silkworms

Environmental

  • Agroforestry

Fuels

  • Miscellaneous fuels

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Oil/fat
  • Spices and culinary herbs

Materials

  • Dye/tanning
  • Essential oils
  • Lipids
  • Pesticide
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Prevention and Control

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Fire has been used to control areas where the plant has formed large thickets (Weber, 2003). However, it is sometimes reported to be a good colonist of newly burned areas being one of the first seeds to germinate in this situation (Institute Hórus de Desenvolvimento and Ambient Conservaçao, 2003). Seedlings and young plants may be removed by hand whereas larger plants that need felling also require stump-treatment with an herbicide (Weber, 2003). Herbicides such as glyphosate or picloram + 2,4-D are effective if applied before the plant has set fruit (Weber, 2003). In Australia, individual plants or small infestations are removed by cultivation or hand-pulling and large infestations are spraying with the herbicides 2,4-D amine, and triclopyr. There is no information available on any biological control programmes.

Bibliography

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Soerjono M Sahid, Rachman Sk. A, 1978. Beberapa varietas harapan tanaman jarak. Pemberitaan Lembaga Penelitian Tanaman Industri (Bogor), 28:15-21.

Weiss EA, 1983. Oilseed crops. London, UK & New York, USA: Longman, 31-99.

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01/07/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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