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Jatropha gossypifolia


Jatropha gossypifolia

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Acalypha gossypifolium
Common Name: Belly-ache Bush, Jarak, Cotton-leafed Physic-Nut, Jarak Merah, Jarak Hitam, Jarak Beremah, Jarak Keling, 棉叶膏桐


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Tropical America, Tropical Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Upright growth habit, able to grow up to 1 - 4 m tall.
Crown Sparse, open canopy.
Foliage Light green leaves, alternate arrangement, palmately divided into 3 - 5 lobes, measuring about 4.5 - 10 cm long and 5 - 13 cm wide, petiole measuring about 6 - 9 cm long, young leaves are purple in colour and covered with sticky hairs.
Stems Older stems are thick succulent, younger stems are purple and surface is pubescent. 
Flowers Small, maroon 5-petaled flowers in terminal panicles, peduncle of each cluster measuring about 10 - 15 cm long, separate male and female flowers in each cluster, male flowers have 8 - 12 yellow stamens while the middle flower of each branch of the cluster is female. 
Fruit Fruit is a green oval capsule which contains 3 dark brown seeds.
Others - Plant Morphology White, sticky sap exudes from the stem when broken.
Etymology Genus Jatropha means "Physician's food" and refers to the medicinal use of the plant. Species gossypifolia means cotton-like plant, possible resembling Gossypium.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: The leaves of the plant are used for intermittent fevers, carbuncles, eczema, itches, sores on the tongues of babies, swollen mammae, stomachache, and venereal disease. The leaf decoction is used for bathing wounds. The leaf extract has been used as an anticoagulant for biochemical and hematological analyses. The sap from the plant has been used for generations in Nigeria to stop bleeding. The Fluid is applied directly to bleeding nose, gums, or skin.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Purple
Young Flush Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Margin Palmately Lobed
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Red
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence

Image Repository



Master ID 1682
Species ID 2975
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 31 May 2022.