Jatropha

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Exotic jatropha tree

Scientific name: Jatropha curcas

English Name: Jatropha

Local Name: NA

General Information

Originated in Mexico or neighbouring parts of Central America. Deciduous, somewhat succulent, monoecious shrub or small tree up to 5(–8) m tall; stem arising from a thick, perennial rootstock, with watery to whitish latex; bark smooth, grey or reddish, shiny, peeling off in papery scales. Jatropha curcas occurs in semi-arid tropical and warm subtropical climates with mean daily temperatures of 20–30°C and annual rainfall of 300–600 mm. It does not withstand frost, but is resistant to periods of drought of up to 7 months. It will grow on degraded, sandy or gravelly and even saline soils with low nutrient content, but cannot survive in waterlogged terrain.

Health Benefits

Traditionally, it is used for the manufacture of candles and soap, as lamp oil and as fuel for cooking.

Different parts of Jatropha curcas are used for a range of medicinal purposes. The oil-rich seeds and seed oil (called ‘oleum ricini majoris’ or for good reason ‘oleum infernale’ or ‘hell oil’) are used as purgative and to expel internal parasites, although their application often leads to strong irritation of the gastro-intestinal tract or even poisoning. The leaves and bark have the same purgative effect. The oil is also applied internally and  externally as a rubefacient to treat rheumatic conditions and a variety of skin infections, although its use on the skin may also cause an irritative rash. The latex has a styptic effect and is used against pains and stings of bees and wasps. Dried and pulverized root bark is made into poultices and is taken internally to expel worms and to treat jaundice. Leaves are also applied on wounds and in decoction they are used against malaria, sap from the stem and roots is used to cure haemorrhoids, bleeding, spongy gums or gum boils, diarrhoea and gonorrhea and accelerate the secretion of milk in new mothers

Livestock Benefit

The latex has a widespread reputation for healing wounds, as a haemostatic and for curing skin problems; it is applied externally to treat infected wounds, ulcers, ringworm, eczema, dermatomycosis, scabies and sarcoptic mange in sheep and goats.

Human Benefits

Traditionally, it is used for the manufacture of candles and soap, as lamp oil and as fuel for cooking. increasingly planted for bio-fuel purposes. The oil is either used directly in adapted engines powering local grain mills, oil presses, water pumps and small generators, or first refined by trans-esterification with methanol or ethanol to produce regular fuel suitable for high-performance diesel engines.

Agriculture Benefits

Widely cultivated in the tropics as a living fence, for erosion control, demarcation of boundaries and for protection of homesteads, gardens and fields against browsing animals. Residue from oil extraction can be used as organic fertilizer.

Cultivation Details

usually found at elevations below 500 metres, but some plants have been known to succeed at elevations up to 1,600 metres. The average annual precipitation of provenance collection sites is from 520 - 2,000mm, however the species survives well in semi-arid regions and has stood several years without rainfall in Cape Verde.Average temperatures of provenance collection sites range from 11 - 28°c

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