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Jatropha curcas

Jatropha curcas




Curcas purgans Medik., Curcas indica A. Rich., Jatropha afrocurcas Pax.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Jarak belanda, jarak keling, jarak pagar (Peninsular).
English Physic nut, purging nut.
Indonesia Jarak kosta jarak pagar (General), balacai (Moluccas).
Papua New Guinea Kadel, lam (Gunantuna, New Britain).
Philippines Tagumbau-na-purau (Iloko) , tuba (Igorot, Bikol, Tagalog), tubang-bakod (Tagalog).
Cambodia Kuang, lohong.
Laos Nhao.
Thailand Ma yao (Northern), sabuu dam, salot paa (Central).
Vietnam D[aaf]u m[ef] , ba d[aaj]u nam.
French Poughère, pignon d'Inde.

Geographical Distributions

J. curcas probably originated from Mexico and Central America, but it was introduced long ago in all tropical regions and some subtropical regions like Florida and South Africa. It is cultivated throughout the Malesian region, though especially in the drier areas.


This is somewhat a succulent shrub or small tree up to 5(-8) m tall with pink latex. The bark is smooth, shiny, greenish-brown or yellowish-grey and peeling off in papery scales.

The leaf blade is broadly egg-shaped, usually shallowly (3-)5(-7)-lobed or occasionally without  lobe, size between 7-14(-18) cm x 5.5-14(-18) cm. It is shallow to deeply heart-shaped at its base and sparsely late hairy along the veins below at first, otherwise hairless. The stalk is (3-)10-15(-20) cm long and smooth.

The inflorescence is slightly arranged to resemble a flat-topped indeterminate inflorescence. The flower stalk is up to 5(-7) cm long. The male flowers are with egg-shaped sepal lobes about 2 mm long. The petals are fused in the lower half, about 3 mm long, greenish-yellow with 10 stamens arranged in two whorls of 5. The female flowers are with about 4 mm long sepal lobes and petals are about 6 mm long. The abortive stamen and imperfect anther and bifid stigmas are present.

The fruit is broadly ellipsoid, 2.5-3 cm x 2 cm.

The seeds are about 1.7 cm long, black, with minute outgrowth of a seed near the filum.

Ecology / Cultivation

J. curcas frequently escapes from cultivation and may become naturalised. It grows on well-drained, well-aerated soils and is well adapted to low fertility. It may be found on rocky slopes, dry riverbeds and similar habitats, from sea level up to 1700 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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 1) Cultivation

 2) Safety

 3) Poisonous


  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1.

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