Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Castor Oil

Castor Oil, the acrid, mildly-purgative, non-drying oil obtained from the seeds of the euphorbiaceous plant, Ricinus communis. This plant is a native of India, but is now much cultivated in the Mediterranean region, and, for ornamental purposes, even in England, where, from its glossy, palmately-lobed leaves, it is known as Palma-Christi. Its flowers are monoecious and apetalous; its numerous stamens polyadelphous; and its three carpels united into a prickly fruit with three one-seeded chambers. The young stems are reddish and glaucous, and the leaves seven-lobed. The seeds are oval, flattened, grey mottled with brown, with a small micropylar aril. They contain about half their own weight of oil, the most valuable medicinal kind being obtained from the smaller seeds by hydraulic pressure without heat, or "cold drawn." Though long cultivated in Europe, castor oil was only admitted to the Pharmacopoeia in 1788. We import over 1,800 tons annually - two-thirds from India, and the remainder chiefly from Italy. The coarser kinds are used in soap-making, and in India as lamp oil.