The green links below add additional plants to the comparison table. Blue links lead to other Web sites.
enable glossary links

Barbados nut, physic nut, piñón, purging nut

leatherstem, limberbush, sangre de drago, sangregado

Habit Trees, to 10[–15] m, monoecious. Subshrubs, to 1 m, dioecious, rhizomatous, often forming colonies.

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

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

spreading, reddish brown (when actively growing) or red to dark red or grayish (when dormant), much-branched, rubbery-succulent, glabrous; short shoots common;

latex watery, colorless to cloudy-whitish in fast growing shoots, blood red in basal portion of older shoots and rhizomes.


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, fascicled on short shoots;

stipules deciduous, linear, 1–2 mm, undivided;

petiole 0–0.2 cm, not stipitate-glandular;

blade linear-spatulate to narrowly obovate, 1.5–5(–7) × 0.2–0.7 cm, usually unlobed, sometimes shallowly, rarely deeply, 3-lobed, base attenuate, margins entire, apex rounded, membranous, surfaces glabrous;

venation pinnate (palmate if lobed).


bisexual, terminal and subterminal, cymes;

peduncle 5–10 cm;

bracts 3–10 mm, margins entire, glabrous.

terminal or axillary, fascicles;

peduncle absent;

bracts absent.


1–3 mm.

1–2.5 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 distinct or connate basally, ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, 2.5–3 × 1.2–1.4 mm, margins entire, apex acute, abaxial surface hairy, adaxial glabrous;

corolla white to pinkish white, urceolate-tubular, petals connate most of length, 5–6 × 1.4–1.5 mm, abaxial surface sparsely puberulent abaxially, adaxial glabrous;

stamens 10 in 2 whorls (5 + 5);

filaments of both whorls connate from 1/5–3/4+ length, outer whorl 2–3 mm, inner whorl 3–5 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;

carpel 1;

style 2.5–3 mm.


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

ellipsoidal, 1.2–1.4 × 1.1–1.3 cm, tardily dehiscent.


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

caruncle rudimentary.

solid gray-brown, spheric, 12 mm diam.;

caruncle rudimentary.


= 22 (Puerto Rico).

= 44.

Jatropha curcas

Jatropha dioica

Phenology Flowering and fruiting spring (late summer–early fall).
Habitat Disturbed sites.
Elevation 0–50 m. (0–200 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
TX; n Mexico
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

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.)

Varieties 2 (2 in the flora).

R. McVaugh (1945b) recognized two varieties in Jatropha dioica based primarily on leaf shape; the two are not readily recognizable and probably hybridization between them has resulted in intermediate populations, as McVaugh noted. The varieties are treated here with some reservation.

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

1. Leaf blades oblanceolate to narrowly obovate, 3.5–5(–7) cm; sepals distinct; stamen filaments connate 3/4+ length; petals pinkish white.
var. dioica
1. Leaf blades linear-spatulate, 1.5–2.5 cm; sepals connate basally; stamen filaments connate to 1/4 length; petals white.
var. graminea
Source FNA vol. 12, p. 202. FNA vol. 12, p. 204.
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. canescens, J. cardiophylla, J. cathartica, J. cuneata, J. curcas, J. gossypiifolia, J. integerrima, J. macrorhiza, J. multifida
Subordinate taxa
J. dioica var. dioica, J. dioica var. graminea
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 1006. (1753) Sessé: Gaz. Lit. México 3(suppl.): 4. (1794)
Web links