Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Shrubs or undershrubs, often with rhizomatous stem base, monoecious or rarely dioecious, glabrous or glandular pubescent; latex pale cloudy, yellow to distinctly red, never milky, powdery when dry; laticifers articulated, non-articulated or idioblastic. Leaves alternate, angular-lobed, palmatifid or palmately 3 - 5, or 7-lobed, palmately or rarely pinnately veined; margins entire or conspicuously serrate, with or without mucronate tips, sometimes the serrations with stipitate glands; stipules present or absent, simple, or branched, incised into long filiform branches and these often modified into serially arranged stalked capitate glands. Inflorescences axillary, terminal, subterminal corymbs of cymes, or reduced to a few or solitary flowers in axils, the main branches terminated by female flower, the others with male flowers; flowers 5-merous, unisexual, rarely bisexual. Male flowers: urceolate, subglobose or tubular; calyx-lobes 5, free, imbricate, glandular, often foliaceous; petals 5, free or variously coherent or connate, rarely absent, contorted, imbricate disc glands 5, free or united in an annular ring, entire, dissected or lobed; stamens 8 or 10 (rarely 6), all or inner whorl basally or rarely entirely connate, often 5, shorter or subconnate at base, epipetalous; anthers longitudinally dehiscent. Female flowers: calyx-lobes 5, imbricate, more often glandular margined or foliaceous; petals 5, sometimes absent, larger than sepals, free or coherent at base, recurved at apex; disc glands 5, free or united into a ring; staminodes sometimes present and diminutive; ovary (2- or) 3-loculed, each 1-ovuled; styles 3, connate at base, bifid; stigmas 2-lobed or 2-fid, narrow, capitate or horse-shoe shaped. Fruits capsular, drupaceous or dry, (2 -) 3 or 4-loculed, breaking up septicidally-loculicidally into 2 or 3 cocci; seeds 2 - 4, ellipsoid to spherical, generally carunculate, oil bearing endosperm copious, starchy; embryo spathulate; cotyledons broad, palmately nerved; radicle short; germination phanerocotylar.

Tropical America, Africa and Asia, ca 186 species; 8 species indigenous and 3 species cultivated in gardens in India.

Notes. Pollen grains are typically Crotonoid, and uniformly spheroidal, inaperturate, and with hexagonally arranged exinous knobs (Punt, Wentia 7: 1 - 116, 1962).

Germination of most species are phanerocotylar (i.e. cotyledons are freed from the seed coat), as in other Euphorbiaceae (Duke, Ann. Missouri Bot Gard. 56: 125 - 161. 1969; Kamilya & Paria, Acta Botanica Indica 22: 251 - 256. 1994). An exception is J. multifida, where the cotyledons are never completely free from the seed coat and termed cryptocotylar. This feature is unique in Euphorbiaceae and shared by Hevea brasiliensis (Duke, l.c. 1969).

Literature. BIR BAHADUR & T. VENKATESHWARLU (1976). Isomerism in flowers of four species of Jatropha L. J. Indian Bot. Soc. 55: 30 - 37. BIR BAHADUR, E. CHAMUNDESWARI & S. GOVARDHAN (1997). Seedling characters in Jatropha species. J. Swamy Bot. Club 14: 45 - 47. CHATURVEDI, M. & M. JEHAN (1982). Studies on the floral and macromorphological characters of pollen and leaf of Jatropha species. Acta Bot. Indica 10: 246 - 251. DEHGAN, B. (1980). Application of epidermal morphology to the taxonomic delimitation in the genus Jatropha L. (Euphorbiaceae). Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 80(3): 257 - 278, illus. DEHGAN, B. (1982). Comparative anatomy of the petiole and infrageneric relationships in Jatropha. Amer. J. Bot. 69: 1283 - 1295. KAMILYA, P. & N. PARIA (1994). Seedling morphology of some Indian species of Jatropha and its implications in taxonomy. Acta Bot. Indica 22: 251 – 256. RAO, S. E. & V. S. RAJU (1994). The genus Jatropha L. in Andhra Pradesh. J. Econ. Taxon. Bot. 18: 585 - 589.


1 a. Stipules well-developed, divided into narrow lobes or often modified into decurrent series of stalked glands 2
b. Stipules absent or minute and subulate 6
2 a. Leaves without stalked glands; young leaves green; peduncles glabrous 3
b. Leaves with stalked glands; young leaves dark purple; peduncles hairy 4
3 a. Shrubs tuberous at base; leaves peltate, 5-fid for halfway down; lobes entire; sepals orange-red cult. (3). Jatropha podagrica
b. Shrubs not tuberous at base; leaves not peltate, rarely slightly subpeltate, divided into numerous lobes to far below the middle; lobes dissected towards apex; sepals crimson-red cult. (2). Jatropha multifida
4 a. Lobes of leaves entire, glandular hairy along margins; flowers reddish or purplish red 3. Jatropha gossypifolia
b. Lobes of leaves serrate, each tooth ending in gland-tipped bristle; flowers green with pinkish tinge 5
5 a. Leaves deeply palmately lobed up to below the middle; stipules prominent, deeply divided into several gland-tipped segments, petals free or almost so to the base in female flowers; staminodes absent in female flowers 2. Jatropha glandulifera
b. Leaves shortly palmately lobed up to or above the middle; stipules short, with only a few gland-tipped segments; petals in female flowers connate to one-third the length; staminodes present in female flowers, almost stamen-like but much smaller and sterile 7. Jatropha tanjorensis
6 a. Leaves oblong-lanceolate or oblong-obovate, entire or with 1 - 5 subulate acute teeth at base on both sides, otherwise entire 7
b. Leaves broadly ovate, 3 - 7-angular or 3 - 7-lobed 8
7 a. Leaves oblong-obovate or panduriform, with 1 - 5 subulate acute teeth at base; flowers crimsonred cult. (1). Jatropha integerrima
b. Leaves oblong, not panduriform, without subulate teeth at base; flowers yellow 5. Jatropha maheshwarii
8 a. Leaves peltate, 3 - 7-lobed 8. Jatropha villosa
b. Leaves not peltate, 3 - 7-angular or lobed 9
9 a. Leaves 3-lobed, wedge-shaped, obtriangular, broadly cuneate at base 6. Jatropha nana
b. Leaves 3 - 7-angular or 3 - 7-lobed, broadly ovate, cordate at base 10
10 a. Large branched shrubs; stem base not tuberous; leaves not glaucous beneath; petals united for half the length 1. Jatropha curcas
b. Unbranched stunted shrubs; stem base tuberous; leaves glaucous beneath; petals free or connate at base only 4. Jatropha heynei

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