Jatropha podagrica

A nod of thanks to Mathew Vis-Dunar, UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist, for both today’s write-up and photograph. This image was taken at the Belize Botanic Gardens in the spring of 2008. Mathew writes:

Jatropha is comprised of about 175 species, most found in the tropics and subtropics of the Americas.

Jatropha is derived from the Greek iatros = physician and trophe = nutrition, resulting in the genus’ common name, physic nut. The term gout plant, used for this particular species, comes from the plant’s distinctive swollen stem.

Native to Central America, Jatropha podagrica has been widely distributed throughout the tropical world, particularly China and India. Not unlike other members of the family Euphorbiaceae, it is toxic, with a single seed being sufficient to cause severe poisoning.

Jatropha podagrica thrives in hot, arid climates, apparently doing quite well as a house plant. Its fruits are explosively dehiscent, launching seeds several feet.

Botany resource link (added by Daniel): Invasipedia, discovered via the Greater Vancouver Invasive Plant
Council’s GVInvasives listserve. Invasipedia “houses information on invasive plants, animals, and pathogens, and especially how to best manage them. Its foundation is the large amount of species management information developed by the The Nature Conservancy’s Global Invasive Species Team.”

Jatropha podagrica

11 responses to “Jatropha podagrica”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    Wow, as dangerous as it’s color! Explosive seeds and all!

  2. Chungii V

    Explosive but not in the literal sense, more like that of the seed pod on an Impatiens. The one at home throws seed and I have them come up 15 feet away from the parent plant which is barely 2 feet tall.

  3. Behty

    Wow – I love this. How coule I procure 🙂 one to be a houseplant?

  4. Bonnie

    Really Cool!

  5. Connie

    What a beautiful color! it doesn’t seem to set many seeds, or are all those little stubs places where they have already ripened and popped off?
    Are some members of this-Jatropha- genus used in medicine or as food? Why “Physician nutrition” for a poisonous plant?
    Thanks for my daily dose- I love learning from you and then following your links and learning even more.

  6. Susanne

    If one seed is so highly toxic, this plant could be dangerous to household pets, such as dogs and cats.

  7. Millet

    thanks for the link to Invasipedia. This will be a valuable resource.

  8. Patricia

    Beautiful but deadly, WOW!. Thanks 🙂

  9. Equisetum

    Invasipedia’s very exciting, but I’d really like to see some distinction made between disturbance plants which “invade” only severely disturbed land (like roadsides scraped or rangeland grazed repeatedly to bare ground, and the surface altered by blades or hooves) and truly invasive plants which intrude themselves into plant-populated areas.

  10. pradeep p damle

    very nice. i love it
    can some ome post more information on that flower

  11. keith

    Took my podagrica to bunnings at maroochydore for identification. Tony & staff exceptionally helpful in identifying the plant. The 3 I have grew easily from seed – no extra care at all. I would like to know whether they can be planted in the ground, & if so, how big will they grow? My largest one is about 35cm tall & has a flower exactly the same as the one illustrated right down to the 2 green seed pods. Our neighbour’s dog sometimes barks. Will it solve the problem if I slip a couple of seeds into it’s evening meal???

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