The castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) is a bush or tree-like, annual or perennial herb commonly cultivated in gardens and parks. The seeds are widely available from garden centres and as parts of imported necklaces. Ricin is the toxic principle in Ricinus communis. It is present in the whole plant but is most concentrated in the ‘beans’ (seeds). Ingestion of a single seed is sufficient to cause clinical signs in dogs. Toxicity is less common from ingestion of other plant material.
Aggressive treatment is recommended for any quantity of castor oil seeds; treatment is supportive if other parts of the plant has been ingested.
We receive many calls about Fatsia Japonica, the false castor oil plant. This plant is of low toxicity. The false, and castor oil plant look very different- if one is unsure of which plant their animal has been exposed to, an image search can be very useful to eliminate one.