Jatropha curcas, commonly called Barbados nut or physic nut, is a dioecious small tree or large shrub that grows to 20’ tall. It is native to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, but has been widely planted throughout the tropics for a number of commercial uses, perhaps now most predominately for production of biofuel. Maple-like, 3-5 lobed, pale green leaves (to 6” wide) are cordate at the bases. Yellow green flowers bloom in spring. Branches have smooth gray bark and exude watery white latex when cut. Flowers give way to green seed pods, each with 2-3 oily black seeds. Pods mature to yellow-red before splitting open to release seeds. Seeds are inedible, but contain oil that may be used to make candles, soap and biofuel. Harvested seed may be pressed for production of biodiesel. Each square mile of plants can reportedly produce 2,000 barrels of oil per year. The oil content of each seed ranges from 30-40%. Cakes remaining after pressing can be further used for producing biogas and fertilizers. Oily seeds are used to make a variety of products ranging from candles to biofuel to fertilizers. Flowers, stems and leaves have medicinal properties. Plants have been used as living fences in some areas.
1. Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
2. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours.
3. Put some moist, humus soil or a mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite into a pot.
2. Sow the seeds on the soil.
3. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
4. Water the seeds.
5. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted into the ground. Plant them in an area in full sun or part shade and with moist soil.