Castor Bean | Fell Over | Updates 2 & 3

Update 3: September 5, 2014

I stood it up yesterday morning, packed the soil around the root ball, watered it well, and tied it to a sturdy steel post. It looks as if nothing happened.

Twenty four hours after being down on the ground. It looks good.

Twenty four hours after being down on the ground. It looks good.

Update 2: September 4, 2014

Update 1 is here.

We had another inch of rain last night. That is twice this week. It is unusual for Iowa in the month of September to have that much rain. It made the ground soft. On our return from a morning walk, we noticed this unfortunate sight by the house. The castor bean fell over early this morning from the rain and wind. What a sad sight.



It had been tied to a wooden stake as a precaution for this reason. That stake was too short now. It needed a strong metal fence post. I went to the back and got one. You can see it driven into the ground behind the toppled plant.

I carefully raised the bean and tied it up securely. The ground was very wet. The stalk seemed ok with no breaks or splits. The bean had been down for several hours and the leaves were still looking pretty good. I watered the ground and packed the soil down around the roots. Maybe it will be able to stay alive and growing.

What about those beans?

Here is a closeup of the top of the plant where the beans are forming. They form inside these prickly structures. Each is about an inch across without the spines. This is the female portion of the plant.


Here is a very good post from Maria F. of The Tropical Flowering Zone about the castor bean. She has some high quality pictures and information worth exploring. Consider following her blog.

I removed one of the seed pods for a closer look.

I removed one of the seed pods for a closer look.

I decided to do some dissecting to see how the seed development was doing inside at this time. It appeared to have a three way symmetry. I cut with a razor knife on three lines.

Three way symmetry

Three way symmetry to this 1″ bean pod minus the spikes.

Three carefully placed cuts.

Three carefully placed cuts appears to have split each of the three beans.

Still very soft and immature. They turn dark later.

Still very soft and immature. They turn dark later.

I hope the plant recovers from tipping over. I want to see some seeds after they mature. Come back again to see if it makes it.


18 thoughts on “Castor Bean | Fell Over | Updates 2 & 3

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      I went out a few minutes ago to check on it. It looks as if nothing happened. The leaves are all fresh and standing up. There is no droop or wilt. Looking good.

        1. Jim in IA Post author

          It had no damage to the stalk. The root ball seemed ok, just muddy. I stood it up to a new steel post and tied it securely. Then, soaked the roots and packed them good. Maybe it will be ok. I hope to get to update 3.

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      Iowa is like most places, not dull, unless you insist on seeing it that way. It is a choice. I choose to see things as interesting.

      I haven’t looked at it yet today. Wait a minute………..I just looked at it. It is standing tall and healthy. No wilt or visible effects. 🙂

  1. Maria F.

    I’m so sorry this happened, I hope it makes it since Iowa is an unusual zone and it could be a microclimate you have in there. The dissection must have been interesting.

  2. shoreacres

    I wonder if it went over in fairly slow motion? Could have, given the soft ground. And those large leaves may have helped to prevent breakage. It looks like all’s well for now. I hope it continues to develop so we can see the entire life cycle.

  3. Steve Schwartzman


    there’s an authoritative article about this plant, whose oil has been used in many more ways than as a purgative:

    “In the United States, castor oil has been used by the military in aircraft lubricants, hydraulic fluids, and in the manufacture of explosives. It has also been used in the synthesis of soaps, linoleum, printer’s ink, nylon, varnishes, enamels, paints, and electrical insulations. Textile scientists have used sulphonated castor oil in the dyeing and finishing of fabrics and leather. The most infamous application of castor oil may have been as a purgative popular for the treatment or prevention of many ailments in the first half of the twentieth century.”

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      When I was about six, mom took me to the doctor. I wasn’t eating enough. He prescribed a big spoon of castor oil after meals until I was eating better. It tasted awful.

      Guess how long it took me to figure out how to stop that.


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