Jatropha multifida (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Jatropha multifida L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 1006 (1753).


  • Adenoropium multifidum (L.) Pohl (1827),
  • Jatropha janipha Blanco (1837).

Vernacular names

  • Coral plant, French physic nut, Spanish physic nut (En).
  • Arbre corail, médicinier d'Espagne, noisetier purgatif (Fr)
  • Indonesia: jarak cina (Javanese), jarak gurita (Sundanese), balacai batai (Ternate)
  • Philippines: mana (Filipino), tubang amerikano (Bikol)
  • Cambodia: lohong khvang kraham
  • Thailand: fin ton, malako farang (Bangkok), ma hung daeng (northern)
  • Vietnam: dầu mè dỏ, bạch phụ tử.


J. multifida is native to tropical America from Mexico to Paraguay; it was introduced as an ornamental into the Old World tropics long ago. Within Malesia it is cultivated at least in Peninsular Malaysia, Java, the Moluccas and the Philippines.


The seed oil of J. multifida is sometimes used as a cathartic, although it may cause strong irritation and even poisoning. The oil is applied both internally and externally as an abortifacient. Seeds are used fresh as a purgative and emetic. The latex is used externally in the treatment of infected wounds, ulcers, skin infections and scabies. In Indonesia one of its local names is "yodium" ("iodine"), which reflects the popular use as a wound-healing remedy. In Indo-China, dried roots are given as a decoction against indigestion and colic; they are also prescribed as a tonic to treat orchitis and oedemas. The leaves are used as a purgative, and in the treatment of dysentery and scabies. J. multifida is widely grown, often in hedges, for its ornamental foliage and flowers. The tuberous roots can be eaten after roasting. The plant may also be used as a fish poison.


  • A glabrous, slightly succulent shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall with white latex, roots tuberous.
  • Leaf blade peltate, broadly ovate-orbicular, 15-35 cm in diameter, palmatipartite with (9-)11(-12) segments, segments simple to deeply pinnatipartite, petiole 10-25(-35) cm long.
  • Inflorescence tightly corymb-shaped, peduncle up to 23 cm long.
  • Male flowers with broadly ovate calyx lobes, about 1 mm long, petals free, about 5 mm long, scarlet, stamens 8, filaments free; female flowers with petals up to 9 mm long, stigmas capitate, bilobed.
  • Fruit tardily dehiscent to subdrupaceous, broadly obovoid, about 3 cm long, 3-lobed with keeled lobes, yellow when mature.
  • Seeds 1.7-2 cm long, buff, mottled brownish, with a small caruncle.

J. multifida occasionally escapes from cultivation into grassland and thickets, generally at low altitudes.

Selected sources

97, 122, 202, 287, 332, 338, 771, 772, 1035, 1128, 1178, 1187, 1380, 1501.


S. Susiarti, E. Munawaroh & S.F.A.J. Horsten