Get the new Rainwater book at our Kickstarter for To Catch the Rain.
An ornamental annual plant growing 1.5-3 meters tall. The seeds, or beans, are pressed for Castor Oil. The plant is highly toxic to all animals, especially the seeds. One or two beans are enough to kill a human.
The plant is quite attractive, with large, purple star-shaped leaves. It is often grown at the borders of gardens to keep away the moles and gophers, who do not like the smell. Raw castor oil sprayed on the ground will also act as a deterent. The plant will re-seed itself somewhat, but saving a few seeds will give a better result. The plant will die at the first frost.
This plant (Mamona) is being used for biodiesel production in Brazil. The oil is also used in a variety of applications and folk medicines, including:
from the Household Cyclopedia
Castor Oil as a Dressing for Leather.
Castor oil, besides being an excellent dressing for leather, renders it vermin-proof; it should be mixed, say half and half, with tallow or other oil. Neither rats, roaches, nor other vermin will attack leather so prepared.