Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - September 13, 2014

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants
Title: Are Castor Bean Leaves Toxic to Pets?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I understand that the beans of the castor plant on lethal if chewed on. Are the leaves that toxic? I would love to plant this plant and not let it flower, but I do have visiting grandchildren and dogs so I want to make sure that the leaves aren't as toxic. Of course the children are supervised, but not the dog.

ANSWER:

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has an excellent website that lists plants that are toxic or non-toxic to pets. Since castor beans (Ricinus communis) are not native plants (but they have naturalized in many places in the South), Mr. Smarty Plants can't advise on this. So looking at the ASPCA page for castor beans shows that the seeds are very toxic to dogs, cats and horses. 

Here's what the ASPCA information says about castor beans ... Beans are very toxic: oral irritation, burning of mouth and throat, increase in thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, convulsions. Access to ornamental plants or pruned foliage most common in poisonings. Ricin is a highly toxic component that inhibits protein synthesis; ingestion of as little as one ounce of seeds can be lethal. Signs typically develop 12 to 48 hours after ingestion, and include loss of appetite, excessive thirst, weakness, colic, trembling, sweating, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, progressive central nervous system depression, and fever. As syndrome progresses, bloody diarrhea may occur, and convulsions and coma can precede death.

In addition, the Veterinary Medicine Library indicates that all parts of the castor bean are toxic, but the seeds are the worst.

The Veterinary Medicine Library web page on castor beans says, "All parts of the plants are toxic, but most dangerous are the seeds. The most susceptible animal species include cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, fowl, rabbits and other small animals. Seeds ingested at 0.2% of body weight have caused toxicosis in cattle and 0.01% of body weight was toxic to horses."

.

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Non-native vines poisonous from Bakersfield CA
May 17, 2013 - Are pink bower vines and stars and stripes mandevilla toxic to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Plants toxic to horses in Travis County, Texas
September 20, 2012 - What plants/weeds are toxic for horses in Travis County?
view the full question and answer

Cutting back non-native oleanders affected by freeze in Austin
January 30, 2010 - After the last hard freeze makes my oleanders look dead. Can I cut them down to the ground this time of year?
view the full question and answer

Trumpet flower side effects
July 06, 2005 - What happens if you eat a trumpet flower, what are the side effects and dangers?
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of poison ivy
May 08, 2009 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, Likewise I also have a shady area in my yard with overgrowth of poison ivy. It borders a small duck pond and we have a Golden Retriever. I too would like to plant soon afterward...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.