Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Griffin, Georgia » Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #236756

Title: Castor

item McKeon, Thomas
item Morris, John - Brad

Submitted to: Handbook of Plant Breeding
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/18/2009
Publication Date: 9/18/2009
Citation: Auld, D.L., Zanotto, M.D., Mckeon, T.A., Morris, J.B. 2009. Castor. Handbook of Plant Breeding. 4:317-332

Interpretive Summary: Castor bean is currently used as a laxative and a lubricant oil. Recently, castor bean oil has been proposed to be a premier candidate crop for biodiesel production in the United States as well as countries worldwide. Castor bean originated from eastern Africa and spread throughout the world for use as a cash oil crop. Several varieties have been developed from castorbean including those with ornamental characteristics. Approximately 6,588 castorbean accessions are conserved in Brazil, China, Africa, Europe and United States. Breeding efforts have focused on eliminating some toxic seed components, reducing allergens, disease resistence, and agronomic characteristics. Soon, castorbean will most likely be a crop used for biodiesel production in Brazil and the United States.

Technical Abstract: Castor (Ricinus communis L.) has the potential to become the premier oil crop for industrial oil production across the glove and is an ideal candidate for production of high value, industrial oil because of the very high oil content (48-60%) of the seed, the extremely high levels of potential oil production (500-1,000 liters of oil/acre), and this plants unique ability to produce oils with extremely high levels (80-90%) of ricinoleic acid as well as high value polymers. Because castor is not used for food and can be grown productively on marginal lands this crop represents a unique opportunity to expand industrial oil production on a global basis. Development of improved production and genetic technologies will help ensure rural regions across the world can participate in the economic potential of this crop.