Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jatropha gossypifolia, Bellyache Bush

Jatropha gossypifolia
 Bellyache Bush in Hunter Region Botanic Garden

I was attracted to this plant by the foliage.The new leaves are a distinctive glossy purple/mahogany red colour while the older foliage is coppery green with dark pink to red midribs. The flowers are apparently tiny clusters of red and yellow terminal blooms. It is found naturally in the West Indies, Mexico and South America. I have since discovered that it is also a serious weed in the Northern Territory of Australia. It gets the common name because it has a history of use as a remedy for stomach distress though it is regarded as poisonous. I had thought it might have some horticultural potential in southern gardens particularly as it tolerates dry and poor soils however because of its track record up north, I thought it best not to pursue growing it.

Jatropha gossypifolia drawing by Dr C D Laros
Utrecht Universiteit Botanic Gardens

1 comment:

  1. I can imagine the attraction towards this plant by the foliage. Like dressing, kids will wear the brightest color available, and the colourful dress change gradually and older people tend to wear plain color. Such a change in the foliage from mahogany red to the ordinary green.... ~bangchik