African Wonder Tree

African Wonder Tree


Alternate names

Ricin, castor bean, Euphorbiaceae, spurge family

Toxicity to pets

The African Wonder tree or Ricinus communis is part of the castor bean family, and contains the highly toxic compound ricin. Ricin is a glycoprotein that prevents protein synthesis; when ingested, clinical signs of inappetance, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, severe bloody diarrhea, abdominal straining, weakness, trembling, hypotension (drop in blood pressure), and sudden collapse may be seen. This plant has a very narrow margin of safety; only a small amount ingested can result in severe poisoning. Death can occur with even a very small ingestion of the beans.

Common signs to watch for:

  • Inappetance
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Severe bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal straining
  • Weakness
  • Trembling
  • Hypotension (drop in blood pressure)
  • Sudden collapse
  • Death
Ricin Plant

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The content of this page is not veterinary advice. A number of factors (amount of substance ingested, size of the animal, allergies, etc.) determine what is toxic to a particular pet. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.