a succulent semi-evergreen caudiciform plant native to Central America, cultivated in Africa and Asia as a medicinal plant; in places where it is widespread as an outdoor plant, adults can reach about two meters in height. It has up to 20 cm wide caudice at the base, scarcely ramified, of light brown colour, covered by thin scales.
At the apex of the branches, long green and fleshy stems appear, carrying large bright green, shiny, deeply lobed, leaves, with 3 or 5 lobes; in spring and summer, the stems can carry also umbrella-like inflorescences formed by small flowers, of an intense coral colour. The flowers are followed by the fruits, roundish woody capsules which, when ripe, break freeing 3-8 small dark seeds. In the places of origin, the jatropha blooms throughout the year, constantly producing new inflorescences.
The genus jatropha includes many other species, for example J. curcas has yellow flowers, is very cultivated to exploit as fuel the oil contained in the seeds; J. gossyppifolia has trilobed leaves, pointed and produces yellow and red flowers.
These plants love very bright locations, preferring the areas in the middle of the shade, but exposed to direct sunlight for a few hours a day. The jatropha fears the cold and the minimum temperature they can bear is around 10°C, therefore in winter they are to be sheltered in the house or in a temperate greenhouse. Avoid exposing the plant to air currents, which could cause the leaves to yellow and wither away.
During the growing season, from March to October, water regularly, letting the soil dry between one watering and the other; in winter water sporadically, vaporizing the leaves at least once a week. These plants bear without problems short periods of drought. Provide fertiliser for succulent plants mixed with water from watering every 15-20 days.
these plants love fairly rich, loose and very well drained soils; utilize a mixture formed by balanced mould, peat and sand in equal parts, with addition of lapillus or pozzolan for increasing the drainage. For a correct development of the caudice, we suggest to repot every 2-3 years.
in spring it is possible to sow the seeds of the previous year, keeping the seedbeds in a cool, humid and shady place until complete germination; the seedlings have very slow growth. In spring it is also possible to make cuttings of leaf, or of semi-woody branches, but the plants thus obtained usually do not have caudice.
Jatropha podagrica: Pests and diseases
jatrophas are sometimes attacked by cochineal and powdery mildew.
- The Jatropha is native to South America and usually does not reach remarkable dimensions. It has a short stem and is
visits : jatropha