Castor bean is a perennial shrub that can grow rapidly to be anywhere from three to fifteen feet in height. With thick, palm-like leaves, castor bean plants can shade the surrounding native plants, preventing the native plants from getting the sunlight needed for growth. Though the leaves are typically deep green in color, some varieties have a reddish tint and have an odor when crushed. Castor bean plants contain small, green flowers with separate male and female flowers present on the same plan. The fruit produced is a small, round, spiny capsule, often red and containing smooth seeds inside that can be fatal if consumed.
The early removal of castor bean plants is important because of how quickly it can grow. However, because of its high toxicity levels, removal must be done with proper training and equipment. To learn more about other invasive species in Orange County’s open space, visit IRConservancy.org, LetsGoOutside.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.