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Castor oil

Euphorbiaceae Ricinus communis L.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

The plant is herbaceous, but may become a small tree in the tropics. The leaves are large and palmately pinnate. The seeds are borne in capsules, generally covered with soft spines. The capsules split, sometimes explosively, at ripening. The seeds are ovoid in shape, variable in size, generally about a gram in weight. They contain 35 to 55 percent of oil, which is extracted by pressure or by solvents. The non-drying oil is used as a medicine and extensively in industry, rarely in cookery.

Last update February 18, 1999 by ch