June 14, 2011

Jatropha cathartica

Phew!  I've been busy!  A couple weekends ago was the garden show, and I didn't do as well as I would have hoped.  Still I'm proud of my plants regardless of what the judges said about them.  Here's one of the plants I love (and apparently the judges loved it as well seeing as it got a blue ribbon and a green thumb):

This is a Jatropha cathartica (aka Jatropha berlandieri) which got very recently repotted after I knocked over the last one.  Les sigh.  Ah well, I think the red pot is quite fetching and gives the plant a bit more room to grow an extra large caudex.  Hopefully.

When I saw the theme for the June GGW contest, I knew exactly the shot that I wanted.  Ok, I didn't know it right away, but after a few blaaaaah wanderings, I remembered how funny this plant is with its frilly stems and stump-like caudex.  It moves A LOT in the wind without coming close to tipping out of the pot.

What I like best about this photo is that it's informative.  Well, I also think it's pretty, but I like the educational value of the image, too.  Just look how sturdy that caudex is!  In habitat, the caudex is actually below ground like a tuber.  The stems will flail around, and ya, I really like this plant.  It's pretty awesome.  It overwinters beautifully in the garage.  It can take all sorts of harassment and general gardening mistakes.  It can take the heat and only starts to really shine when it's RIDICULOUSLY hot.  I have killed other caudiciforms but not this one.  It can also take full sun, which my Jatropha podagrica can't.

And speaking of Jatropha podagrica (aka Buddha Belly Plant or Bottle Plant Shrub), I have hopefully hybridized my Jatropha cathartica and Jatropha podagrica today.  I noticed a new bloom stalk on my Jatropha podagrica about to open, so I quickly snipped off the potential male flowers before they opened.  Today the female flowers opened, and I pollinated them HEAVILY with male flowers from the cathartica.

I managed to find one picture of this kind of cross (Jatropha podagrica x cathartica), but I couldn't get a good look at the leaves.  Of course, I'd like a nice fat caudex, but some frillier leaves on a podagrica would be nice.  I'm not sure what kind of plants I'll wind up with.  Right now, I'm just hoping to wind up with anything at all although I have managed to grow a few seedlings...

A few months ago, I planted a few of Jatropha podagrica seeds that I managed to collect.  These seeds explode off the plant, so if you don't net the seed pod or harvest it right before, it's gone.  I generally pay careful attention, and when the green husk starts to pull back at the seams, I snatch it off the stalk and throw the pod in a small paper box where it'll explode without tossing the seed 40' from the plant.  Usually it explodes within 12 hours of pulling the pod, so it really has to be quick.

And the best part is that I have 2 more like the one in the picture above!


  1. It is a beauty! The red pot takes it up a notch! Lovely form!

  2. Very cool post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Not-so-Angry,
    Wow! I love your blog's new style! You've been busy.
    Hey, that Jatropha shot is marvelous. I love the creative movement.
    I just went through your dark background and white background instructionals and they were awesome.
    I have a photography blog friend in Sweden (check it out...Sophia's Tradgard) who has perfected this white background 'thing' and I have always been baffled on how she performs such magic...until now! You've done the same magic and now shown the world how to do it! Thanks. Your blog is marvelous and on my blog favorites list at Tropical Texana. Hope my little blog can send you even more traffic!!!
    Have fun with that Jatropha...that's one cool plant to grow.
    David/ Houston Texas :-)

  4. I have a Jatropha cathartica from a succulent show in Austin. Now it's in Napa, CA where it is cold and damp in the winter. My Jat flowered this summer, but now I'm worried about its success here in the damp and foggy north bay area of California. Any ideas? Someone mentioned overwintering it in the garage. No light? No water?

    Thanks, Mere


Every time you leave a comment, an angel gets his wings!