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Spicy jatropha (Jatropha integerrima)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Jatropheae
Genus: Jatropha

Approximately 175, see Section Species.

Jatropha is a genus of approximately 175 succulent plants, shrubs and trees (some are deciduous, like Jatropha curcas L.), from the family Euphorbiaceae. Jatropha is native to Central America [1], and has become naturalized in many tropical and subtropical areas, including India, Africa, and North America. Originating in the Caribbean, the jatropha was spread as a valuable hedge plant to Africa and Asia by Portuguese traders. The mature small trees bear male and female inflorescence, and do not grow very tall.

The hardy jatropha is resistant to drought and pests, and produces seeds containing up to 40% oil. When the seeds are crushed and processed, the resulting oil can be used in a standard diesel engine, while the residue can also be processed into biomass to power electricity plants.[2]

Goldman Sachs recently cited Jatropha curcas as one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production.[3] However, despite its abundance and use as an oil and reclamation plant, none of the Jatropha species have been properly domesticated and, as a result, its productivity is variable, and the long-term impact of its large-scale use on soil quality and the environment is unknown. [1]


Vegoil and biodiesel

Main article: Jatropha oil

Currently the oil from Jatropha curcas seeds is used for making biodiesel fuel in Philippines, promoted by a law authored by Philippine senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Miguel Zubiri. Likewise, jatropha oil is being promoted as an easily grown biofuel crop in hundreds of projects throughout India and other developing countries. [1] [4] The rail line between Mumbai and Delhi is planted with Jatropha and the train itself runs on 15-20% biodiesel. [1] In Africa, cultivation of jatropha is being promoted and is grown successfully in countries such as Mali. [5]

Estimates of jatropha seed yield vary widely, due to a lack of research data, the genetic diversity of the crop, the range of environments in which it is grown, and jatropha's perennial life cycle. Seed yields under cultivation can range from 1,500 to 10,000 kilograms per hectare, corresponding to extractable oil yields of 540 to 3,400 liters per hectare.[6]

Jatropha can also be intercropped with other cash crops such as coffee, sugar, fruits and vegetables.[7]

Other uses

See in the article on Jatropha curcas.

Tea made from the leaf of certain species are reputed to be an aphrodisiac.


  Species of Jatropha include:

  • Jatropha cuneata limberbush, whose stems are used for basketmaking by the Seri people in Sonora, Mexico, who call it haat [ʔaat]. The stems are roasted, split and soaked through an elaborate process. The reddish color dye that is often used is made from the root of another plant species, Krameria grayi.
  • Jatropha curcas, also called physic nut, is used to produce the non-edible Jatropha oil, for making candles and soap, and as a feedstock for producing biodiesel. Prior to pressing, the seed can be shelled with the Universal Nut Sheller which reduces the arduous task of removing the seeds from the shell. This is historically done by hand. Once the seeds have been pressed, the remaining cake can be used as feed in digesters and gasifiers to produce biogas for cooking and in engines, or be used for fertilizing, and sometimes even as animal fodder. The whole seed (with oil) can also be used in digesters to produce biogas. Extracts have an anti-tumor activity. The seeds can be used as a remedy for constipation, wounds can be dressed with the sap, and the boiled leaves remedy malaria and fever. Large plantings and nurseries have been undertaken in India by many research institutions, and by women's self-help groups who use a system of microcredit to ease poverty among semi-literate Indian women.
  • Jatropha gossypifolia, also called bellyache bush: its fruits and foliage are toxic to humans and animals. It is a major weed in Australia.
  • Jatropha integerrima Jacq., or Spicy jatropha: ornamental in the tropics, continuously crimson, flowers almost all year.
  • Jatropha multifida L., or coral plant: bright red flowers, like red coral, charactertised by strongly incised leaves.
  • Jatropha podagrica or buddha belly plant or bottleplant shrub was used to tan leather and produce a red dye in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It is also used as a house plant.

Gallery of Buddha Belly plant (Jatropha podagrica)


This genus is also known as:

  • Adenorhopium Rchb.
  • Adenoropium Pohl
  • Castiglionia Ruiz & Pav.
  • Collenucia Chiov.
  • Curcas Adans.
  • Jatropa Scop., orth. var.
  • Loureira Cav.
  • Mesandrinia Raf.
  • Mesandrinia Ortega
  • Tempate El Salvador; Nicaragua
  • Zimapania Engl. & Pax

See also

Energy Portal


  1. ^ a b c d Fairless D. (2007). "Biofuel: The little shrub that could - maybe". Nature 449: 652-655.
  2. ^ Poison plant could help to cure the planet Times Online, 28 July 2007.
  3. ^ Jatropha Plant Gains Steam In Global Race for Biofuels
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Mali’s Farmers Discover a Weed’s Potential Power", New York Times, September 9, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-21. "But now that a plant called jatropha is being hailed by scientists and policy makers as a potentially ideal source of biofuel, a plant that can grow in marginal soil or beside food crops, that does not require a lot of fertilizer and yields many times as much biofuel per acre planted as corn and many other potential biofuels. By planting a row of jatropha for every seven rows of regular crops, Mr. Banani could double his income on the field in the first year and lose none of his usual yield from his field." 
  6. ^ Dar, William D.. "Research needed to cut risks to biofuel farmers", Science and Development Network, 6 December 2007. Retrieved on 26 December 2007. (English) 
  7. ^ Jatropha for biodiesel
  • Jatropha Facts and Figures
  • An Integrated Approach of Rural Development in Tropical & Subtropical Countries.
  • BBC News website article re. Jatropha and biofuels
  • Times Online Article
  • Brazil Opens its First Commercial Jatropha Biodiesel Facility
  • Biodiesel producers in Africa.
  • Agroils
  • the global jatropha authority
  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jatropha". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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