Red, Spiked Flowers, One & Two

This plant has a very distinctive look, but my unprofessional self is having trouble finding its name.  Zoomed out, it looks like a bunch of red puffballs glued to a stick; up close, they remind me of sea anemones or urchins.

Update, 2014-04-24: Thanks to the anonymous commenter for getting me to look again, this time with the help of some friends. The species is Ricinus communis, commonly known as the castor oil plant. Considering the vividity of the red fruit, it could be Ricinus communis 'Carmencita Bright Red', an ornamental cultivar. Although this isn't generally the sort of plant you'd want in a home garden with kids around (its seeds are toxic), it's nevertheless a fascinating plant with a wide variety of uses, the most popular of which is in the production of castor oil.

Needless to say, I erroneously titled this "Red, Spiked Flowers, One & Two", when in fact it should have been "Red, Spiked Fruits, One & Two". We learn.


  1. We found your pictures while googling this flower. We are also trying to find a name for it. Have you discovered the name yet?

  2. Thanks for the comment, otherwise I wouldn't have thought to try again. I asked a taxonomist friend, and she says it's the castor oil plant, Ricinus communis (or a cultivar thereof). Not the most terribly exciting plant, but I think she's right: