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Barbados nut, physic nut, piñón, purging nut

Arizona nettlespurge, sangre de drago

Habit Trees, to 10[–15] m, monoecious. Shrubs, to 1.2–2.5 m, dioecious.

erect, gray-green, much-branched, woody-succulent, glabrous; short shoots absent;

latex watery, colorless in younger branches, cloudy-whitish in older shoots.

erect, grayish white, branched from base, woody-succulent, canescent; short shoots common;

latex watery, cloudy-whitish.


persistent, ± evenly distributed on long shoots;

stipules caducous, narrowly lanceolate, 5 mm, undivided;

petiole 9–19 cm, not stipitate-glandular;

blade round in outline, 9–15 × 9–15 cm, usually shallowly 3–5-lobed, rarely unlobed, base cordate, margins entire or glandular (young leaves), apex acuminate, membranous, surfaces glabrous;

venation palmate.

deciduous, mostly ± evenly distributed on long shoots, few on short shoots;

stipules absent;

petiole 1.3–3 cm, not stipitate-glandular;

blade cordate to broadly ovate, 2.2–3.5 × 1.6–3 cm, unlobed or shallowly 3-lobed, base truncate-cordate, margins entire, apex rounded, ± coriaceous, abaxial surface canescent, adaxial surface sparingly hairy;

venation pinnate (palmate if lobed).


bisexual, terminal and subterminal, cymes;

peduncle 5–10 cm;

bracts 3–10 mm, margins entire, glabrous.

terminal on branches or on short shoots, staminate cymes, pistillate fascicles, or flowers solitary;

peduncle 1–2.6 cm;

bracts 1–2.5 mm, margins entire, sparsely hairy.


1–3 mm.

2–3 mm.

Staminate flowers

sepals distinct, ovate-elliptic, 4–6 × 2–3 mm, margins entire, apex acute, surfaces glabrous;

corolla greenish yellow, campanulate, petals distinct or connate 1/4 length, 6–8 × 2–3.5 mm, glabrous abaxially, tomentose adaxially;

stamens 10, ± in 2 whorls (5 + 5);

filaments of both whorl connate to top or nearly so, outer whorl 3–4.5 mm, inner whorl 3–5 mm.

sepals connate to 1/4 length, lanceolate, 2–2.5 × 0.5–0.8 mm, margins entire, apex acute, canescent abaxially, glabrous or sparingly hairy adaxially;

corolla grayish white, sometimes pinkish abaxially, subglobose-urceolate, petals connate 3/4–4/5 length, 5–8 × 1–2 mm, surfaces sparingly hairy;

stamens 10 in 2 whorls (5 + 5);

filaments of outer whorl connate 1/2 length, of inner whorl connate 1/4 length, outer whorl 2–3 mm, whorl series 4–5 mm.

Pistillate flowers

resembling staminate, but sepals connate to 1/2 length, 5–7.5 × 2–5 mm;

petals 4–5 × 2–2.5(–3) mm;

staminodes infrequent;

carpels 3;

styles connate most of length, 0.5–1.5 mm.

resembling staminate, but sepals connate only at base, 3–3.5 × 1.5–2 mm;

petals connate 1/2–3/4 length, 8–11 × 3–5 mm;

carpels 2[–3];

styles connate 3/4 their lengths, 2–5 mm.


ellipsoidal, 2.6–3 × 2.2–2.8 cm, drupaceous.

compressed ellipsoidal, 1.2–1.5 × 2–2.5 cm, 2-lobed [ellipsoidal, 3-lobed], tardily dehiscent.


black or black mottled with white spots, ellipsoidal, 18–20 × 11–13 mm;

caruncle rudimentary.

solid brown, subspheric, 9–12 mm;

caruncle absent.


= 22 (Puerto Rico).

= 22 (Mexico).

Jatropha curcas

Jatropha canescens

Phenology Flowering and fruiting spring (late summer–early fall). Flowering and fruiting late spring(–summer).
Habitat Disturbed sites. Sandy washes, sand dunes.
Elevation 0–50 m. (0–200 ft.) 0–500 m. (0–1600 ft.)
from FNA
FL; Mexico; Central America [Introduced in North America; introduced also in West Indies, South America, Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, Australia]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
AZ; Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora)

Jatropha curcas now has a circumtropical distribution but probably originated in Central America; it is naturalized in southern Florida. The latex of J. curcas is used for soap making and for medicinal purposes; the seeds are used for biofuel production.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

In Arizona, Jatropha canescens is found only in Pima County, primarily in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Jatropha canescens is part of a hybrid complex that includes the Mexican species J. cinerea (Ortega) Müller Arg. and, probably, J. giffordiana Dehgan & G. L. Webster. These can be difficult to distinguish. R. McVaugh (1945) suggested considering J. canescens as a synonym of J. cinerea, and F. Shreve and I. L. Wiggins (1964), as well as others, have done so. Jatropha canescens may be distinguished from J. cinerea and J. giffordiana most reliably by its crowded inflorescences of staminate flowers with smaller subglobose (as opposed to urceolate) whitish gray corollas (sometimes with some red or pink on the adaxial surface) as opposed to larger darker red corollas of J. cinerea and J. giffordiana. In addition, J. canescens generally has more numerous, longer and darker colored short shoots, and smaller and less often shallowly 3-lobed leaves. Although J. cinerea (in the strict sense) does not occur in northern Sonora, it is one of the more common plants in Baja California, Baja California Sur, and western mainland Mexico.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 12, p. 202. FNA vol. 12, p. 202.
Parent taxa Euphorbiaceae > Jatropha Euphorbiaceae > Jatropha
Sibling taxa
J. canescens, J. cardiophylla, J. cathartica, J. cuneata, J. dioica, J. gossypiifolia, J. integerrima, J. macrorhiza, J. multifida
J. cardiophylla, J. cathartica, J. cuneata, J. curcas, J. dioica, J. gossypiifolia, J. integerrima, J. macrorhiza, J. multifida
Synonyms Mozinna canescens
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 1006. (1753) (Bentham) Müller Arg.: in A. P. de Candolle and A. L. P. P. de Candolle, Prodr. 15(2): 1079. (1866)
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