Articles

Jatropha curcas Linn

Botanical Name

Jatropha curcas Linn

Synonyms

Croton moluccanus (non Linn.) Lour. ,Curcas purgans Medik , Castiglionia lobata Ruiz & Pav , Jacerifolia Salisb, Jatropha afrocurcas Pax (1909).

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Vernacular Names

Malaysia

Jarak Pagar

Indonesia

Jarak costa (Malay); Jarak kusta (Sunda); Kalele (Madura); Jarak pager (Bali); Bintalo (Gorontalo), Balacai Hisa (Ternate)

Thailand

Sabudam

Philippines

Bolong Cauit, Tatataba; Tavatava; Tawatawa; Tubang Bakod

Vietnam

Ba Dau Nam

Cambodia

Lohong

India

Kananaeranda, Parvataranda (Sanskrit); Bagbherenda; Kadam (Hindi); Caat Amunak (Tamil) Nepala, Adivie amida (Telagu); Rata endaru (Sinhalese)

China

You Lu Zi; Guo Ma Hong

Turkish

Kurkas

Arabic

Danb Barri

Africa

Bagani (Ivory Coast); Kpoti (Togo); Mupuluka (Angola); Butuje (Nigeria); Makaen (Tanzania); Mbono (Swahili)

English

Jatropha, Physic Nut, Purging Nut, Barbados Nut

French

Pourghere, Purchere, Grand Pignon d’Inde, Feve d’enfer, Gros Ricin, Medicinier purgative

Portuguese

Purgueira, Pinhao, Ricino Major, Grao de maluco, Galamaluco

South America 

Pitana (Mexico); Coquillo (Costa Rica); Tartago (Puerto Rico); Mundubi-assu (Brazil); Pinol. [1] [5] [6]

Description

Jatropha curcas Linn., is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is a deciduous, succulent, monoeious shrub or small tree which can reach up to 8 m tall. The stems arise from a thich, perennial rootstoch, with watery to whitish latex. The bark is smooth, grey or reddish, shiny and peeling off in papery scales. The leaves are alternate, simple, stipules are minute; petiole 10 – 20 cm long, glabrous; the blade is broadly ovate in outline, usually shallowly 5-lobed, measuring about 7-14 x 5.5 – 14 cm, base shallowly or deeply cordate, apex acute, margins entire, glabrous, 5 – 7-veined from the base. The inflorescence a terminal or axillary umbel-like cyme, often paired, with a solitary female flower terminating each major axis and many male flowers on lateral branches; peduncle up to 5 cm long, hairy; bracts elliptical-lanceolate, measuring about 1 cm long, acuminate. The flowers are unisexual, regular, greenish yellow; male flower has ovate calyx lobes, measuring about 2mm long, petals fused in lower half, lobes oblong to ovate measure 3 mm long, disk composed of 5 free flands, stamens 8, in 2 distinct whorls, the 5 outer fused at the base, the 3 inner with filaments completely fused. The female flower has ovate-lanceolate calyx lobe measuring about 4 – 5 mm long, hairy, petals 6 mm long, free, disk composed of 5 free glands, ovary superior, ovoid-ellipoid, 3-celled, styles 3, fused at base, stigma 2-lobed, staminodes 10. The fruit is a broadly ellipsoid capsule measuring about 2.5 – 3 cm x 2 cm, smooth-skinned, initially fleshy and green, turning yellow and eventually dry and black, late dehiscent, 3 seeded. The seeds are ellipsoid, measuring about 1 – 2 cm long, mottled black and coarsely pitted. [5]

Distribution

It is native of tropical America and now it is widespread. It is now in cultivation in many tropical third world countries with the advent of biodiesel. [3]

Plant Use

Jatropha curcas is used medicinally by many communities where it grows wild or cultivated. Amongst the reputed use is to arrest bleeding and promote healing of cuts and wounds. For this the latex is being applied over the lesion. The roots are used to expel intestinal worms, treat gonorrhoea and snake bites and insect stings. 

Recently, the plant had been promoted for the production of biodiesel in many developing countries including Malaysia. [5] [7] [8]

Toxic Parts

Whole plant. [1]

Toxin

Jatrophin (curcin), a violent purgative that stimulates bowel movement, a dermatitis producing resin, a purgative oil, and a glycoside. The poison kills by interfering with the synthesis of protein in intestinal wall cells. The seeds can be eaten if thoroughly roasted to remove the poison. [1] [2] [4]

Risk Management

In the past J. curcas has been used as live fencing in villages, but today it is not a popular plant in urban and rural gardens anymore. It only poses dangers in areas where it is being grown in plantations for the production of biodiesel. Workers of such plantations should be made aware of the dangers of this plant and should be instructed to be cautious when handling them. [5]

Clinical Findings

Reaction time is between 15 to 20 minutes. Difficulty in breathing, sorethroat, bloating, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness, dysuria, and leg cramps. The abdominal symptoms of intense pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea may appear within an hour after ingestion. These symptoms had been attributed to the presence of cucanoleic acid in the oil.  In severe poisoning, muscular spasms and collapse may ensue and may even be fatal. Childrean are especially vulnerable because of the pleasant-tasting seeds. [1] [2] [9]

Management

Gastric lavage is often done unless vomiting has been extensive. Treated with bismuth subcarbonate and magnesium trisilicate to protect the stomach. There is no known antidote for curcin. There has not been any report of fatality published. All patients recovered well after conservative and supportive therapy. [1]

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) Cultivation

  3) Safety

References

1. Stevens S, Bannon A, HowDunit – The Book of Poisons Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, 2007 pg. 54
2. Fuller TC, McClintock EM. Poisonous Plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley 1986 pg. 139
3. Lachman-White DA, Adams CD, Trotz UOD. Guide to the Medicinal Plants of Coastal Guyana The Commonwealth Secretariat Publications, London, 1992, pg. 150
4. Turkington C, Mitchell DR. The Encyclopedia of Poisons and Antidotes, The Estate of Carol Turkington, New York, 2010 pg. 31
5. Gabriella Harriet Schmelzer, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Medicinal Plants I PROTA Foundations/ Backhuys Publisher Wageningen. 2008 pg 347 – 350
6. Peter Hanelt Mansfeld’s. Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops Volume 5 Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2001 pg. 1209-1210.
7. Susan Scott, Craig Thomas. Poisonous Plants: First Aid and Medical Treatment of Injuries. University of Hawaii. 2000 pg 88.
8. C.P. Khare. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 2007 pg. 345.
9. Chomchai C, Kriengsunthornkij W, Sirisamut T, Nimsomboon T, Runggrueng W, Silapasupoagornwong U. Toxicity from ingestion of Jatropha curcas (Saboo dum) seeds in Thai Children. Southeast Asian J. Trop. Med. Public Health 2011, Volume 42(4):946 – 950.