Jatropha (Jatropha)

The jatropha genus includes about 175 species of trees, shrubs and succulents that are characterized by having leaves and flowers of enormous ornamental value. In fact, it is not uncommon to find a specimen in the gardens and collections.

But its maintenance is not very simple when the weather is not good; And it is that unfortunately, being native to tropical regions, they fear frost. However, they can be grown indoors.

Origin and characteristics

Jatropha gossypiifolia Image – Wikimedia/ Vijayanrajapuram

Our protagonists are plants native to Africa, North America and the Caribbean, where they grow in tropical regions without frost. They can be trees, shrubs or herbs, sometimes succulent, with stems that contain latex. The leaves are alternate or subposed, lobed to palmately lobed.

The flowers are grouped in axillary or terminal inflorescences, and there may be only female or male, or both genders in which case they would be monoecious. The fruit is capsule-shaped and contains carunculate seeds inside.

All parts are poisonous, although there are some species that are used medicinally.

Main species

  • Jatropha curcas: known as pilón de tempate, it is a shrub up to 5 meters high, monoecious, native to Central America.
    It is cultivated a lot for the medicinal properties of leaves and seeds, which are: healing, disinfectant and purgative. But the fruits and seeds cannot be ingested directly, but must be used either as a poultice or by chewing three seeds with half a liter of water for a little while and then swallowing.
  • Jatropha integerrima: known as peregrina, it is a 2-3 meter tall shrub with succulent stems native to Central America.
  • Jatropha multifida: it is a shrub or small tree up to 6 meters high native to southern North America, Mexico and Cuba.
    Like J. curcas, the fresh seeds can be used as a healing and purgative, but with care.
  • Jatropha podagrica: known as king’s cape or spurge, it is a native plant of Central America that grows to a height of 1-2 meters. See file.

What are their cares?

Jatropha podagrica Image – Wikimedia/ JMGarg

If you want to have a jatropha specimen, we recommend you take care of it as follows:

  • Location:
    • Outside: it must be outside, in full sun.
    • Indoor: place it in a bright room, without drafts.
  • Irrigation: rather scarce. About 2 times a week in summer and every 10 days the rest.
  • Land:
    • Garden: it must have very good drainage, since it fears waterlogging.
    • Pot: advisable to plant it simply on the pumice, to help it root.
  • Fertilizer: it can be paid by adding a little sheep manure once a month, for example if it is on land, or with liquid guano if it is in a pot.
  • Multiplication: by seeds in spring.
  • Rusticity: it does not support cold or frost.

What do you think of these plants?

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