Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Jatropha curcas

L., Sp. Pl. 1006. 1753

Coquillo, Physic nut, Piñon, Arbol santo

Monoecious shrub or small tree, usually 2-5 (6) m tall, glabrous but with puberulence on young leaves and inflorescence branches; stems thick, the leaf scars close and pronounced; sap red in time. Leaves alternate, sim­ple; stipules minute, acicular, caducous; petioles 7-15 cm long; blades ovate, unlobed or with 5-7 shallow lobes, acuminate, cordate, 10-25 cm long, 9-15 cm wide; veins palmate at base. Flowers green, 5-parted, in short ter­minal dichasia becoming 10-25 cm long; staminate    flow­ers ca 7 mm diam; pedicels 1-5 mm long, puberulous; calyx deeply lobed, the lobes rounded at apex and re­curved; petals obovate to oblong, rounded and recurved at apex, to 6 mm long, densely villous inside, weakly imbricate and united below middle; disk segments free, ellipsoid, white, ca 1 mm long; nectar copious, enclosed by petals; stamens 8-10, to 6 mm long, in a close erect cluster; anthers oblong, to 1.7 mm long, extrorse; pollen pale yellow; pistillate flowers on pedicels 5-9 mm long (to 13 mm in fruit); calyx lobes ± oblong-lanceolate, 7-9 mm long; petals as in staminate flowers; ovary gla­brous; styles 3, slender, 1.5 mm long, connate in basal half, dilated into massive stigmas. Capsules ± globose, smooth, turning yellow, 2.5-3 cm long, at first fleshy but eventually drying and dehiscent; seeds 3, 1.5-2.2 cm long, black, broadly oblong. Croat 10223, 12606.

Cultivated in the Laboratory Clearing. The plant loses leaves for a short time during the dry season, then flowers shortly after the new leaves grow out at the begin­ning of the rainy season (April to August). These fruits mature mostly from June to September. The plant rarely flowers again at the beginning of the dry season, with the fruits maturing in the late dry season.

Seeds are purgative and may cause death if eaten in quantity (Standley, 1928; Blohm, 1962).

Probably native to northern Central America, but widely cultivated throughout the tropics. In Panama, known principally from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Colón. Panama, and Darien, but also known frequently from premontane dry forest in Los Santos and Herrera and from tropical dry forest in Los Santos, Coclé, and Panama.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Jatropha curcas Flower Leaf
  • Jatropha curcas Fruit Leaf
  • Jatropha curcas
  • Jatropha curcas flower
  • Jatropha curcas fruit
  • Jatropha curcas flower