Information On Jatropha

Overview

Jatropha is a genus that is comprised of about 175 trees, shrubs and succulent plants. They are classified as being part of the Euphorbiaceae family. Jatropha's name is extracted from the Greek words for "physician" and "nutrition," and as a result they are often referred to as "physic nuts." Jatrophas are very diverse and are comprised of herbaceous perennials, woody trees and succulents that are similar to cacti.

Origins

Jatropha originally comes from Central America. However, jatrophas have become naturalized in many different subtropical and tropical regions of the planet, such as India, North America and Africa.

Biodiesel and Oil

The oil that is extracted from the seeds of Jatropha curcas is used for the production of biodiesel fuels in both Brazil and the Philippines. In those areas, jatropha curcas is cultivated naturally (as in parts of Africa and India). One prominent train line in India runs partially on biodiesel fuel.

Toxicity

Similar to various plants from the Euphorbiaceae family, Jatropha plants consists of some different toxic compounds, including saponin, a trypsin inhibitor, lectin and carcinogenic phorbol. However, Jatropha plants are still occasionally eaten after roasting, which is a process that decreases some of its toxicity. It is considered to be fatal to eat.

Skin Irritation

Jatropha consists of a milky sap that is capable of causing skin irritation, particularly for those with sensitive skin types. Individuals should avoid direct contact between the skin and Jatropha.

Species

The various different species of Jatropha plants include Jatropha podagrica, Jatropha integerrima, Jatropha curcas, Jatropha gossypifolia, Jatropha multifida and Jatropha cuneata.

Other Names

There are various other names for the Jatropha genus, such as Collenucia, Adenorhopium, Loureira, Jarak, Castiglionia, Nkran Dedua, Tempate, Pulga, Mesandrinia, Pourghere and Zimapania.

Intercropping

Intercropping is a process that aims to make a higher yield on a certain area of land by using its resources to produce more than a single crop. Many factors are important when determining which crops can be intercropped together, such as climate and soil. Jatropha can be intercropped with cash crops like sugar, coffee, vegetables and fruits.

Keywords: Jatropha curcas, Jatropha information, biodiesel fuel

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.