Jatropha gossypiifolia L.
Bellyache Bush, Black Physicnut, Cotton-leaf Physicnut
Adenoropium gossypiifolium, Jatropha gossypiifolia var. gossypiifolia, Manihot gossypiifolia
Jatropha gossypiifolia is a shrub or small tree with erect, sparsely to much-branched stems with dark red, brownish, or green leaves. It can grow up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. The branches are woody-succulent and glandular when young. The leaves are 3- to 5-lobed halfway to the base or more and can reach up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide. They are attached to the branches by cylindric petioles measuring up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long.
Flowering occurs throughout the year but mostly during late summer and fall. The flowers are small, bell-shaped, orange-red to purple, sometimes with a lighter center, and appear in terminal clusters. The fruits are subglobose capsules that reach up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter and contain gray-brown seeds mottled with dark brown spots.
USDA hardiness zones 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 45 °F (+7.2 °C).
How to Grow and Care
The key to successfully growing Jatropha is to balance moisture and drainage properly. They typically appreciate a steady water supply, but the most popular species cannot tolerate being submerged or soaked and will quickly succumb to root rot. Many popular species make excellent small trees for a conservatory or sunny corner. Keep them well-pruned so they don't outgrow their space too soon. Jatrophas are vulnerable to pests, including aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and whitefly. Identify the infestation as early as possible and treat it with the leave toxic option.
Jatropha can be propagated by seed or by stem cuttings. To take stem cuttings, remove a small piece of stem, dip it in the rooting hormone, and then put it into a small pot with seedling starter soil. Place in a warm, bright place and wait for new growth to emerge.
Repot Jatropha annually at the beginning of the growing season. Many species are naturally small shrubs, ranging up to 15 feet (4.5 m) in height. To keep your indoor container plant manageable, trim it to size and possibly root prune older plants. Much larger plants should be refreshed occasionally by removing the top several inches of potting soil and replacing it with fresh soil.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Jatropha.
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