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