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Scientific Name:- Ricinus communis


The castor oil plant, Ricinus communis, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family named Euphorbiaceae.


  • Castor belongs to a monotypic genus, Ricinus, and sub tribe, Ricininae.
  • Castor seed oil was and is still, used widely in local medicines mainly as a laxative, but also to soften dry and coarse skin. The Chinese have used the castor seed oil for medicinal purposes for centuries.
  • The castor plant appears to have originated in eastern Africa, especially around Ethiopia. It now grows throughout the warm temperate and tropical regions and flourishes under a variety of climatic conditions. It can be grown almost anywhere and this is one of castor's greatest virtues.
  • Castor seeds were an important item of trade in ancient Egypt. It has been found in tombs dating from 4000 BC. In India too, castor has been used since ancient times. In the Susruta Atharvaveda, dating back to 2000 BC, it is referred to as indigenous plant and that its oil was used for lamps.
  • Though castor plant or castor oil is not a food, yet it is one of the most commonly used oils all over the world as a safe purgative and drug for reducing irritation of the skin and alleviating swelling and pain. The castor seed plant contains alkoloid ricinine and toxalbumine ricin. They yield a fixed oil which is used chiefly for medicinal purposes.


Unlike most fixed oils, castor oil possesses the remarkable property of mixing with absolute alcohol and glacial acetic acid in all proportions. The glycerides of ricinoleic acid in castor oil are mainly responsible for its purgative effect.