Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Ricinus communis, a tropical ornamental plant, grown as an annual in southcentral PA, and will reach only about 10 feet in height. A large fast growing plant, it provides a lovely foliage screen over the summer months. Shown here are the flowers. The fruit which follows is a capsule containing three large seeds which are the source of commercial Castor oil. The dark seeds are shiny and extremely poisonous.
Castor bean oil is one of the best known laxatives and probably one of the least liked. Old timers remember its yucky flavor and odor but this is the new millennium and Castor oil now comes both tasteless and odorless. Its laxative action is gentle and suitable for children and the aged.
Castor oil is one of the most water soluble oils available so it is useful in making a scented oil to add to the bathtub. Simply mix 1 C of some of the tasteless/odorless Castor oil together with 1/4 ounce of your favorite essential oil such as lavender or lemon. Voila, a quick, easy and fun holiday gift!