Giant Purple Plant. What is the name?

sureturtleSeptember 20, 2006

Hi, everyone!

I saw this giant purple plant upto 10 ft tall in somebody's yard. It has beautiful shiny, palm like foliage. I talked to the gardener who is a kind old lady but don't speak any English. From her son I know it might be an annual plant. And she gave me some seeds! Enough to share in the coming seed swap if interested.

But I would love to know the name and the properties of this plant. Would you please take a shot? Marie, you identified Gunnera well. Could you for this? It has somewhat similar leaf shape as Gunnera, but surface is smooth.

Included is one picture:

Thank you!

Here is a link that might be useful:

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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

What did the seeds look like? I always plant Castor Bean seeds and the plants get very large with the maroon/purple leaves. It looks like a great plant to have adding some super foliage color to ones garden.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 6:54PM
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That's Castor Bean, a vigorous annual. They also come with green leaves. The one in the picture may me 'Carmen' (or 'Carmencita,' I can't remember).

Don't let the 'bean' name fool you; the plant is very poisonous. It's the source of ricin.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 10:56PM
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Thank your ladylotus for identifying. I think it is castor bean.
From googling I realize castor bean is poisonous!! But if it truely can repel mole, I am for it. Do you harvest your seeds? How do you keep your seeds and for how long? Do you start it indoor or sow directly outside in spring?


    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 11:03PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

Ricinus comunis- there are many varieties- all are poisonous IF INGESTED- they taste horrible- I am sure- as this is also where castor oil comes from! And Ricine- where that infamous white powder anthrax comes from. That said- I always like to have one or two in containers- where they dont get so tall- but they do look so lovely!
There is so much oil in the seeds that sometimes the packet shows a oil residue- with this seed- I do wash my hands after handeling- as the oil may get absorbed in the skin- I dont usually get seeds from my plants- but they are easily traded for from folks in the warmer climates-
You are sure to enjoy these next year!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 8:04AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

The seeds are easy to collect. You will see a red spiny looking ball that will eventually turn brown. Once it turns brown I break open the pods where you will find seeds that resemble beans.

One thing I have found, I have to start my seeds indoors around March and transplant my seedlings outdoors in Spring or I will not get seed pods. Too short of a season. Enjoy! These are beautiful plants which add a tremendous amount of color in the garden.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 5:39PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Just be careful of danger to pets and small children, those belonging to neighbors as well as yourself. I know it's easy to think that they won't chew on anything that tastes terrible, but you never know. I have an 8 month old puppy that chews on everything - including rocks and any plant material (fresh or dried) that she can get ahold of, She's also doing a very good (debatable) job of stripping wallpaper in our bathroom!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 10:08PM
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There are many plants in your garden that are poisonous. Castor bean has a high profile, but one should use common sense and help it become more common by explaining that nothing to hand should be eaten unless one is absolutely certain of it's safety. Did y'all see the rash of mushroom poinsonings of people eating shrooms found in some park?

I don't start my castor bean seeds inside. I plant 'em out in the spring and I do get seeds every year. I do plant them in total full sun.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 10:12AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I have been collecting seed from my castor plant which has been growing in partial shade and is about 6 feet tall. How do I dispose of this plant after a killing frost? Can it be composted?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 1:47AM
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I compost mine.

I also compost rhubarb leaves, which are also poinsonous; I know for a fact that they break down safely. As do the other poisonous plants in my garden. I assume the castor bean does as well.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 8:11AM
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