Fourth Sunday in Advent 2013

This is the last flower featuring in my Advent Sunday series, and I think it looks rather festive too!

Ricinus communis


I grew two of these from seed, and was amazed at how well they grew! They loved it in my dry and very hot rockery, and looked good until the first frost. The large glossyy leaves are an exotic addition to the garden – not really fitting in with other plants at all. In fact they are almost gaudy, but the small flowers and seedheads are somehow very attractive and every time I passed this plant I would admire it.

The common name in German is Wunderbaum (Miracle Tree) and this seemed very appropriate as I could not believe its growth and stature! It was not until I looked up the English common name – Castor Oil Plant – that I realized this is where castor oil comes from. I had never given it a thought before.

Only one drawback if you have pets or small children – this plant and its seeds are toxic. Ours was tucked well into the barely accessible rockery.

Have you ever grown anything exotic?


Here’s another (more seasonal) plant that is exotic for us in Europe. Do you have these at Christmas time too?


Enjoy the last few days before Christmas!

37 thoughts on “Fourth Sunday in Advent 2013

    • It’s difficult to keep the poinsettias for long here as they drop their leaves – cultivated in greenhouses just for the season! Mine has done well so far!

  1. Very nice Cathy and I agree festive! I’ve not grown castor bean cuz they say it is quite poisonous. However, now that my children are quite a bit older, I could give it a try. It is really beautiful and I like the look of a few exotics in this very non tropical area! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Some time since I’ve grown ricinus but it’s on my seed list for next year Cathy. The foliage is most attractive and it’s amazing just how much growth it puts on in a season. For some reason I can’t abide poinsettias so none have crossed my threshold at Christmas time or any other time ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I always succumb to their cheerful festive bracts! Yes, I liked the Ricinus foliage a lot too. I have pressed a couple of the leaves, so hope they turn out well.

  3. Seeds of “Wunderbaum” were given to us in school. I think the plant is stil in my motherยดs garden.
    Yes, we have “Weihnachtssterne” (Christmas star) at home. Have a wonderful Sunday! Uta

  4. I’ve grown this before and like it a lot, especially with grasses. Mind you, lots of plants are toxic…once you start investigating, it’s quite scary. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yes, I suppose you are right… more than we think! My dogs don’t eat anything in the garden except the wild strawberries and maybe a rose hip or two, but I still removed the bright seeds – better safe than sorry!

  5. Really pretty and definitely festive! I don’t grow Ricinus because of their toxicity, but they do grow quite well in our climate; they love the aridness of our summers.

    I don’t have a poinsettia this year, although I usually pick one up. I never save them over to try to get them to rebloom, though – too much work!

    Have a very Merry Christmas! Wishing you all the best!

  6. Latin ricinus is the source of our word ricin, the name of the deadly poison (which people who hear the word spoken may mistakenly think has something to do with rice).

    The castor bean plant isn’t native in Texas but it can occasionally be found growing in the wild here.

  7. I came across this plant used in a border (and en masse) a while ago and thought WOW!! and seeing your photos I’m reminded of that wow factor.
    Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year Cathy. Claire x

    • Thanks – same to you Claire! I’ve seen Ricinus planted with Canna and palms in a park and they looked great… that’s what made me want to try growing them in fact. I gave up on cannas a few years ago but these were a success.

  8. Happy holidays, Cathy! I’ve enjoyed your Advent Sunday series. Caster bean, canna lilies, hardy bananas, and many other tropical are common in South Carolina, but not in my shady garden. I don’t really miss them, though. Not as much as peonies, roses, and salvias!

  9. I tried to grow a peanut plant this year. It came in a tin and was supposed to be very easy, but it died … hmmm. I guess not so easy?! I’m not exactly Miss Greenfingers though.
    I love your poinsettia ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Great color on the castor bean! I’ve tried growing the red ones a few times but just haven’t found the real bright ones yet.
    I have a weak spot for poinsettias too, but have been known to get sick of them in January and send them outside ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, sown in May and flowering by early August! It grew so quickly you could almost watch it! Unfortunately the first frost got it – not a hardy plant at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.