Fat plants

Jatropha podagrica


semi-evergreen caudiciform succulent plant native to Central America, cultivated in Africa and Asia as a medicinal plant; in places where it is widespread as an outdoor plant the adult specimens can reach about two meters in height. It has a caudice up to 20 cm wide at the base, which is poorly branched, light brown in color, covered with thin flakes. At the apex of the branches sprout long green and fleshy stems that bear large bright green leaves, shiny, deeply lobed, with 3 or 5 lobes; in spring and summer the stems can also carry umbrella-shaped inflorescences made up of intense coral-colored flowers. The flowers are followed by fruits, roundish woody capsules that break when they are released, freeing 3-8 small dark seeds. In places of origin la jatropha it blooms throughout the year, constantly producing new inflorescences. The genre jatropha it includes numerous other species, for example J. curcas has yellow flowers, it is much cultivated to take advantage of the oil contained in the seeds as fuel; J. gossyppifolia has trilobate, pointed leaves and produces yellow and red flowers.


these plants love very bright positions, preferring areas in partial shade, but exposed to direct sunlight for a few hours a day. The jatropha fear the cold and the minimum temperature they can bear is around 10 ° C, so in winter they should be kept indoors or in a temperate greenhouse. Avoid exposing the plant to drafts, which could cause the leaves to turn yellow and wither.


in the vegetative period, from March to October, water regularly, leaving the soil to dry between one watering and another; in winter water sporadically, vaporizing the leaves at least once a week. These plants can easily withstand short periods of drought. Provide fertilizer for succulent plants mixed with watering water every 15-20 days.


these plants love quite rich, loose and very well drained soils; use a mixture consisting of balanced soil, peat and sand in equal parts, with the addition of lapillus or pozzolan to increase drainage. For a correct development of the caudice it is advisable to repot every 2-3 years.


in spring it is possible to sow the seeds of the previous year, keeping the seedbeds in a cool, damp and shady place until complete germination; seedlings have very slow growth. In spring it is also possible to practice leaf cuttings, or semi-woody branches, but the plants thus obtained do not usually have caudex.

Jatropha podagrica: Pests and diseases

jatrophas are sometimes attacked by cochineal and oidium.