Jatropha macrorhiza – Ragged Nettlespurge

Jatropha macrorhiza - Ragged Nettlespurge, Ragged Jatropha (flower and a seed capsule)

Jatropha macrorhiza - Ragged Nettlespurge, Ragged Jatropha

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Jatropha macrorhiza

Common Names: Ragged Nettlespurge, Ragged Jatropha

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Upland. This wildflower can be found growing in grasslands and in oak-juniper woodlands.

Flower Color: Pale pink, White

Flowering Season: Summer. This plant blooms after the summer monsoon rains have begun.

Height: To 20 inches (51 cm) tall

Description: The flowers have 5 oval petals and are followed by large seed capsules with 3 seeds. The leaves have ragged, irregularly-toothed margins and are green, fleshy, alternate, and palmately-lobed with 5 to 7 main lobes. The stems are green, fleshy, and will ooze clear sap if broken. The root is an enlarged, potato-like tuber.

Special Characteristics

Poisonous – The plants and especially the seeds are poisonous and contain the potentially fatal phytotoxin curcin (similar to the deadly ricin) and a purgative oil that causes severe vomiting. Children are the most susceptible to this plant's toxins. Although the tuberous roots look like potatoes and taste sweet, they are also poisonous.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae – Spurge family
Genus: Jatropha L. – nettlespurge
Species: Jatropha macrorhiza Benth. – ragged nettlespurge

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map