From page 15 of Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities,

Castor bean is a dramatic annual or tender perennial shrub with deeply lobed leaves, prickly seedpods, and large, speckled seeds.

I can understand that "tender perennial shrub" means "live for many years, that is not winter hardy", but I don't know the meaning of "dramatic" in the above sentence.

What does "a dramatic annual shrub" mean?

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    Possibly because it erupts with many shoots and flowers in a particular season...the castor weed that I know grows very high in certain times of the year, depending on seasonal supply of water. //Hope you are not planning on poisoning anyone haha. – Cascabel Oct 19 '20 at 20:39
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    @Cascabel is probably right. Assuming 'dramatic' is not a technical horticultural term. – GEdgar Oct 19 '20 at 20:54
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    The shrub is fond of quoting Shakespeare. – Hot Licks Oct 19 '20 at 22:32
  • Shrubs have social-media accounts now? (what if someone wired sensors into the shrub then put an AI frontend on it) – smci Oct 20 '20 at 22:12

dramatic = "very sudden or noticeable, or full of action and excitement"

Cambridge dictionary

I emphasis noticeable because plant lovers like a plant to be noticeable for its colour or form. And the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) is certainly noticeable for both colour and form. Being either an annual grown from seed or grown as a perennial, it may confidently be described as a dramatic annual or tender perennial shrub.

In the comments, richardb adds:

It should be parsed as dramatic (annual or tender perennial) shrub, not (dramatic annual) or (tender perennial) shrub

![Ricinus communis

  • Great visual to illustrate how 'dramatic' this plant is. – Val Oct 19 '20 at 22:03
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    Just to note that it should be parsed as dramatic (annual or tender perennial) shrub, not (dramatic annual) or (tender perennial) shrub. I suspect that may be part of OPs confusion. – richardb Oct 20 '20 at 8:45
  • The Castor plant can take a light frost at night, but will die when exposed to more severe frost and/or a several day long frost period. Depending on where you are in the world it is a perennial or an annual plant. If perennial the shrub can grow over 5 meters high. It is originally from the Middle East. It Is used as a garden plant all over the world and has become an invasive weed in some countries around the Mediterranean and in the southern states of the USA. – Tonny Oct 20 '20 at 13:45
  • @richardb that deserves to be an answer on its own. Given the title and quoting in the question it is clearly the root of the confusion. – Jontia Oct 20 '20 at 19:08

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