Ricinus communis from seed - help please

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Pauline

  • Jr. Member
Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« on: October 19, 2014, 08:56:08 PM »
I harvested some seeds from a lovely specimen of Ricinus communis today, and am now wondering what to do next and when to do it. (Perhaps I should just have dug up one the many seedlings at its feet.  :-[ )

Should I clean the seeds or leave them in their pods?
Should I sow them now or wait until spring?
In pots or in situ?

You may gather that I have grown very little from seed before - and that was in another climate.


Edit: I have read the pinned topic on seed germination, and would sow when nature does it, but I don't know when the plant's seeds would normally be released (ejected?) from the capsules. And I also realise that many of you must be at the MGS AGM at the moment, but I dare say there's no hurry.


« Last Edit: October 20, 2014, 09:02:41 AM by Pauline »
An amateur and a complete novice in mediterranean stuff, attempting to establish a garden in Andros, Cyclades, Greece. We're about 45m above sea level. Steep learning curve? Vertical straight line.

Alice

  • Hero Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2014, 08:49:06 PM »
Remove the seeds from the pods.
Soak them in tepid water for 24 hours.
Sow at a depth of 2-5 cm, outdoors in spring. I am sure you could sow at any time in pots indoors.
Amateur gardener who has gardened in north London and now gardens part of the year on the Cycladic island of Paros. Conditions: coastal, windy, annual rainfall 350mm, temp 0-35 degrees C.

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Pauline

  • Jr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2014, 09:04:28 PM »
Thank you, Alice.  :)


An amateur and a complete novice in mediterranean stuff, attempting to establish a garden in Andros, Cyclades, Greece. We're about 45m above sea level. Steep learning curve? Vertical straight line.

Trevor Australis

  • Sr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2014, 11:44:37 PM »
All parts of the plant are very poisonous, esp the seeds so be very careful about hand-washing. It is a great foliage plant but like so many has a few hidden nasties. It is not much seen here nowadays; maybe the 'nice' police have done their job too well? But it does grow big here, as big as a small tree and it lives for 15yrs or so which means it gets too big for many gardens.
M Land. Arch., B. Sp. Ed. Teacher, traveller and usually climate compatible.

Jamus

  • Jr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2014, 03:21:38 AM »

You beat me to it Trevor, I was going to say wash your hands. I'd even wear gloves with that one!... scary stuff.

I bought some seed of one of the dark red cultivars and it never germinated. I was disappointed as it's a stunning foliage plant for dry gardens.
Long hot summers, mild wet winters. Rainfall approx. 600mm pa.
Summer maximums over 40 degrees, winter minimums occasionally below freezing.
Gardening on neutral clay loam and sandy loam.

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Pauline

  • Jr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2014, 08:52:17 AM »
Thanks for the warnings. I'm well aware of its toxic properties, though there are some who say that they've been wildly overstated:
"...even someone who ate 40 castor beans survived...." http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/blog2/blog090614.php.
But better safe than sorry. There are many R. communis plants around here, along with countless Oleanders, and nobody seems about to panic. Perhaps they educate children about what not to nibble rather than remove the plants. (Indeed I remember dire warnings about Laburnum from my childhood.)

I photographed the plant that I harvested the seeds from in 2006, and even then it had been around for a while. It's bigger now, but it's still what I'd call a shrub and not a tree.







An amateur and a complete novice in mediterranean stuff, attempting to establish a garden in Andros, Cyclades, Greece. We're about 45m above sea level. Steep learning curve? Vertical straight line.

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Charithea

  • Hero Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2014, 02:38:11 PM »
Hello Pauline. The red seed heads of the plant are rather beautiful. My late cousin, died age 93 this  April , used to use R c as cut flowers. When I asked if she knew the dangers she smiled and simply said that she liked their colour. Of course they were put to other uses here in the village. It was customary  to present a losing opponent,  be it political or sporting one, with a bunch of Ricinus communis. We were discussing this habit with a friend  a while ago, and he said he remembered it . We don't hear about this any more.. We concluded that the older generation knew their Ancient Greek history.
I garden in Cyprus, in a flat old farming field, alt. approx. 30 m asl.

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Pauline

  • Jr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2014, 04:18:56 PM »
Hello Charithea, and thank you for that. I find the whole plant beautiful, but you've opened up a whole new perspective for me. I wonder what you had to do to be given a bunch of Hemlock?  ;)
An amateur and a complete novice in mediterranean stuff, attempting to establish a garden in Andros, Cyclades, Greece. We're about 45m above sea level. Steep learning curve? Vertical straight line.

Trevor Australis

  • Sr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2014, 11:20:13 PM »
I'd love to know more about the story behind giving bunches of Ricinus to 'losers'. It is odd to think that there is a need to warn people about poisonous plants; what reason would anyone have to chew/ suck or ingest oleander, ricinus or almost anything else that is not recognisable as good to eat or 'food', but there you go - it does happen despite thousands of years of common knowledge and common experience.
M Land. Arch., B. Sp. Ed. Teacher, traveller and usually climate compatible.

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John J

  • Hero Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2014, 11:43:40 AM »
I don't know about anyone chewing oleander, Trevor, but there are stories here of young tourists camping out and using whittled down sticks from the plant as makeshift skewers to cook their sausages, etc over a campfire. They ingest some of the sap along with the meat and tend to end up in hospital with rather nasty stomach complaints although I can't recall ever hearing of any fatalities due to this practice.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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John J

  • Hero Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2014, 12:02:51 PM »
I don't know where the tradition of giving bunches of Ricinus to losers came from or even if it is peculiar to this particular village. I can only speculate that as the Greek name for the seeds is kroton, which is the name of a small tick that lives on dogs and other animals, and that it resembles, and the plant's use as a laxative has been known since ancient times they may have something to do with it.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Charithea

  • Hero Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2014, 05:55:55 PM »
Here is an update on the use of Ricinus communis. I decided to ring up friends in their 60's, younger ones in their 40's and great nephews in their early 20's to tell me what they knew regarding the custom.Apparently the custom still goes on but has been slightly modified. The over 60's remember the first presidential election when Makarios III won. There were a few bunches of R.c given out. I remember my uncle giving one to the future mother-in-law of his youngest son. A few elections later the custom was still being used. I was informed by a friend of my nephews that he remembers  that their street had houses with Ricinus hanging on their doors. Why don't we see this any more? He philosophised that we are all fed up with our politicians and also the plant is not as accessible now since the younger generation live in town houses with small gardens. How do we then make people feel bad? After a football match we shout out to the losers. Πιε Τζαι της κουρτουνιας. Translation. Drink Ricinus tea. Among friends telephone calls are made or SMS send to advise them to drink the tea. All very friendly because we live in a small place and we never know when we will receive the same treatment
I garden in Cyprus, in a flat old farming field, alt. approx. 30 m asl.

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Charithea

  • Hero Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2014, 05:56:54 PM »
Here is an update on the use of Ricinus communis. I decided to ring up friends in their 60's, younger ones in their 40's and great nephews in their early 20's to tell me what they knew regarding the custom.Apparently the custom still goes on but has been slightly modified. The over 60's remember the first presidential election when Makarios III won. There were a few bunches of R.c given out. I remember my uncle giving one to the future mother-in-law of his youngest son. A few elections later the custom was still being used. I was informed by a friend of my nephews that he remembers  that their street had houses with Ricinus hanging on their doors. Why don't we see this any more? He philosophised that we are all fed up with our politicians and also the plant is not as accessible now since the younger generation live in town houses with small gardens. How do we then make people feel bad? After a football match we shout out to the losers. Πιε Τζαι της κουρτουνιας. Translation. Drink Ricinus tea. Among friends telephone calls are made or SMS send to advise them to drink the tea. All very friendly because we live in a small place and we never know when we will receive the same treatment
I garden in Cyprus, in a flat old farming field, alt. approx. 30 m asl.

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Pauline

  • Jr. Member
Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2015, 08:03:06 AM »
Update: I realised that in this climate I don't even know what counts as "Spring" but hey, I put three seeds in a while back and now have two seedlings. Exciting!  :)

An amateur and a complete novice in mediterranean stuff, attempting to establish a garden in Andros, Cyclades, Greece. We're about 45m above sea level. Steep learning curve? Vertical straight line.

David Dickinson

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Re: Ricinus communis from seed - help please
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2015, 01:28:05 AM »
I too put a few seeds into a pot a couple of days back and they are starting to send out a root. I nicked and soaked mine first which could explain why they are starting after 48 hours. Fingers crossed for us both. :-)
I have a small garden in Rome, Italy. Some open soil, some concrete, some paved. Temperatures in winter occasionally down to 0C. Summer temperatures up to 40C in the shade. There are never watering restrictions but, of course, there is little natural water for much of June, July and August.