CASTOR-OIL PLANT (Heb. קִיקָיוֹן, kikayon), the kikayon in the shade of which the prophet Jonah sat outside Nineveh after his prophecy concerning that city's destruction had not been fulfilled. He was glad of the shade, "but God prepared a worm" that attacked the plant so that it withered and Jonah was left unprotected against the burning rays of the sun (Jonah 4:6–11). The identification of kikayon with the castor-oil plant is supported by contextual and linguistic evidences as also by the tradition of the Talmud and translators. The castor is the perennial plant Ricinus communis, which grows wild in the Jordan valley, in the coastal plain, and on wadi banks in other regions of Ereẓ Israel. It grows quickly and produces large, shady leaves. The word kikayon is connected with k'k' the Egyptian name of the plant (in Coptic and Greek: kiki) while in Aramaic and Syriac it was known as ẓeluliva which Rabbah bar bar Ḥana identified as the kikayon of Jonah (Shab. 21a). From its seeds a medicinal oil is the kik oil included by the Mishnah among the oils that may not be used for lighting the Sabbath lamp (ibid., 2:1). The kikayon has also been identified with the calabash gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris), an identification first mentioned in the Septuagint and apparently based on the passage that Jonah built himself a booth at the side of which the kikayon came up. The gourd fits in well with this, being a climber that grows quickly and has large leaves. On these two identifications of kikayon, Abraham ibn Ezra, who quotes them in his commentary, makes the observation that "it is not necessary to know which it is," i.e., it was a supernatural phenomenon, for no plant comes up, as the kikayon was said to do, "in a night," and so it cannot be identified with any ordinary plant growing at present. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 608–11; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 136–8. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 143. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • castor-oil plant — [kas′tər oil′] n. a tropical plant (Ricinus communis) of the spurge family, with seeds (castor beans) from which castor oil is extracted …   English World dictionary

  • Castor-oil plant — Castor oil Cas tor oil (k[a^]s t[ e]r oil ). A mild cathartic oil, expressed or extracted from the seeds of the {Ricinus communis}, or {Palma Christi}. When fresh the oil is inodorous and insipid. [1913 Webster] {Castor oil plant}. Same as {Palma …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • castor-oil plant — n a tropical Old World herb of the genus Ricinus (R. communis) widely grown as an ornamental or for its oil rich castor beans that are a source of castor oil …   Medical dictionary

  • Castor oil plant — Taxobox name = Castor oil plant image width = 240px image caption = Castor bean in disturbed area regnum = Plantae phylum = Magnoliophyta classis = Magnoliopsida ordo = Malpighiales familia = Euphorbiaceae subfamilia = Acalyphoideae tribus =… …   Wikipedia

  • castor-oil plant — /kas teuhr oyl , kah steuhr / a tall plant, Ricinus communis, of the spurge family, cultivated for its ornamental foliage and having poisonous seeds that are the source of castor oil. Also called castor bean. [1835 45] * * * Large plant (Ricinus… …   Universalium

  • castor-oil-plant — paprastasis ricinmedis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Karpažolinių šeimos aliejinis, dekoratyvinis, prieskoninis, vaistinis nuodingas augalas (Ricinus communis), kilęs iš Afrikos. Iš jo gaminami maisto priedai (kvėpikliai), gaunami… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • castor oil plant — ricinmedis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Karpažolinių (Euphorbiaceae) šeimos augalų gentis (Ricinus). atitikmenys: lot. Ricinus angl. castor bean plant; castor oil plant vok. Rizinus; Wunderbaum rus. клещевина lenk. kleszczowina; rącznik …   Dekoratyvinių augalų vardynas

  • castor-oil plant — Palma Christi Pal ma Chris ti [L., palm of Christ.] (Bot.) A plant ({Ricinus communis}) with ornamental peltate and palmately cleft foliage, growing as a woody perennial in the tropics, and cultivated as an herbaceous annual in temperate regions; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • castor oil plant — japoninė fatsija statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Aralijinių šeimos dekoratyvinis augalas (Fatsia japonica), paplitęs rytų Azijoje. atitikmenys: lot. Fatsia japonica angl. castor oil plant; fatsi; glossy leaf paperplant; Japanese fatsia;… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • castor-oil plant — cas′tor oil′ plant pln a tall plant, Ricinus communis, of the spurge family, cultivated for its ornamental foliage and poisonous seeds that yield castor oil Also called castor bean 2) • Etymology: 1835–45 …   From formal English to slang