Jatropha Plant History


Jatropha Cura is a drought-resistant perennial of the family Euphorbiaceae. This shrub or shrub-like tree is widely cultivated in the tropics and is easy to grow and maintain. The seeds of the plant have a significant oil content that can be refined into high=quality biodiesel fuel. For this reason, jatropha curcas has the potential of becoming one of the world's most important energy crops.


It is believed jatropha originated in South America where, from ancient times, extracts from its leaves and seeds were used as an antiseptic.


Portuguese sailors learned of jatropha's medicinal qualities when they came to South America during the 16th century. They took the plant to India and Africa, where its fast growth and inedible leaves made it ideal as a stock fence for grazing animals. It was also used as a shade tree for dwellings.


The jatropha plant was used on the Cape Verde Islands for a short period of time to produce lamp oil for the Portuguese market. This production ceased with the discovery of paraffin oil.


Jatropha oil was first used in India as a fuel oil but has now received worldwide attention as a mainstream feedstock for biodiesel fuel. Extensive research concerning the oil has been conducted by DaimlerChrysler, the German government, the Mitsubishi Research Institute and the Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.


In 2008, Air New Zealand launched a successful test flight with jet fuel produced from jatropha oil.


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About this Author

Loraine Degraff has been a writer and educator since 1999. She recently began focusing on topics pertaining to health and environmental issues. She is published in "Healthy Life Place" and "Humdinger" and also writes for Suite101. Degraff holds a Master's degree in Communications Design from Pratt Institute.