Jatropha podagrica Hook.

Last updated: 11 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Jatropha podagrica Hook.


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Jatrofa buncit [1]
English Australian bottle plant, coral plant, gout plant, gout stalk, gout stick [1]
China Fo du shu [1]
Central America Pansona, ruibarbo, tartogo [1]

Geographical Distributions

Jatropha podagrica is native to Central America but had been promoted as ornamental throughout the world. [2][3]

Botanical Description

J. podagrica is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. [4] It is a shrub which can grow up to 2.5 m high with succulent stem and thick swollen base. [2]

The leaves are palmate and deeply pinnatifid, or ciliated glandular stipules. Few leaves appear at one time and only at the apices of the branches. Petioles are long with peltate five-lobed glabrous leaf blades. The blade is broadly ovate and can be as big as 20-30 cm long. [2]

The flowers are in large cymes on long peduncles. They are small, orange-red, monoecious. Female flowers are few, in the axils of the main bracteas. The calyx is cup-shaped, five-lobed, the lobes erect, very obtuse. The corolla is deeply five or six-partite, the segments ovate and spreading. The stamens six to eight in numbers, and yellow in colour. The filaments combined at the base and have five glands united in a ring. The ovary is ovate, with similar glands. They style is short, much divided into green stigmas. [2]

The fruits are ellipsoid, tribolate, ca. 1.5 cm diameter, truncate at the apex, dehiscing both septicidally and partly loculicidally, ca. 1.2 by 6 mm, caruncle small. [5]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Methanol extract of J. podagrica stem bark has been reported to contain fraxidin, fraxetin, scoparone, 3-acetylaleuritolic acid, beta-sitosterol, and sitosterone. [6]

Extract of J. podagrica latex has been reported to contain cyclic peptides (e.g. podacycline A and B). [7]

Plant Part Used

Roots, stems, leaves, seeds, and fruits. [8]

Traditional Use

In Indonesia the whole plant of J. podagrica is traditionally used to treat fever [8]. The Africans however make use of the seed oil as part of the ingredients in a compound medicine to treat fever. It has been used in the treatment of Malaria [9]. The whole plant is used as a haemostatic and also applied on haematoma to aid in rapid reduction of the swelling. The plant is known to have diuretic properties and is used to treat haematuria. It is used to treat gonorrhea too [8]. In Indonesia and China the plant has been used to treat snake bites. 10-15 g of the plant is pounded and then immersed in rice wine. It has been used as a purgative and is known to be useful for intestinal infestation of worms [9].

Some African tribes are accustomed to chewing the seeds when they are in need of a laxative. In Indonesia the roots had been used as an appetite stimulant. It is also used in the treatment of jaundice. In various society the plant has been used to treat arthritic conditions and in particular gout. The roots have been used in Indonesia to treat body aches. It has also been advocated to be used in paralytic conditions. In this way the seed oil has been used as part of the ingredient for local application. Peruvians used it as a stimulant and strengthening remedy.The residue is then applied over the wound and bandaged. The bark of the plant is a remedy for fish poison. The seed oil is used to treat itchiness of the skin and also parasitic skin conditions. [8]

The plant also is promoted as an ornamental mainly because of the unique stem structure and the rather showy leaves and striking flowers. It is also used in traditional medicine by people of the tropical belt (e.g. Central America, Tropical Africa and Asia). Amongst its notable use include as an antipyretic, diuretic, choleretic and purgative. The stems and roots are used as chewing sticks in Ghana and Nigeria. [10]

Preclinical Data


Neuromuscular and cardiovascular activity

Amide alkaloid was isolated from the stem of J. podagrica showed neuromuscular-blocking and hypotensive effects. The neuromuscular effect was found to be similar to those of d-tubocurarine i.e. blocking actions at the cholinergic and adrenergic neuro-effector junctions, the neuro-muscular junction and at the ganglia. [11]

The hypotensive effects is proven to be of a direct vascular nature and it was found that it blocked the extracellular entry of calcium through calcium channel and also inhibits the release of intracellular stored calcium in the vascular smooth muscle. This indicates that it is a true calcium antagonist. [12]

Antibacterial activity 

Hexane, chloroform and methanol extracts of the root wood and root barks of J. podagrica were studied for their antimicrobial activity against 18 organisms. All the extracts exhibited some broad spectrum antibacterial activity, at a concentration of 20mg/mL. The hexane extracts were generally more active than the chloroform and methanol extracts. The hexane extract of the yellow root bark was the most active of all the extracts and its activity was comparable to that of gentamycin but better with regard to the control of Staphylococcus. aureus and Bacillus.cereus. Three of the extracts, hexane extract of the yellow root bark and hexane and methanol extracts of the root wood showed moderate antifungal activity against the yeast fungus, Candida albicans. The methanolic extract of stem of J. podagricahas demonstrated antibacterial activity against only gram positive microorganisms. Fractionation of this extract resulted in a number of active fractions. One of them contained the amide alkaloid tetramethylpyrazine. [13][14]

Schistosomicidal activity 

Tetramethylpyrazine (TMP) isolated from the stem bark of J. podagrica is both miracidal and cercariacidal but not ovicidal at a minimal concentration of 100μg/ml. Sublethal concentrations (125-800μ/mL) of TMP arrested the development of miracidia to cercariae in the bilharzia-transmitting snail (Bulinus globosus). [15]


The genus Jatropha comprises plants that are toxic in nature and J. podagrica is not an exception. It contains many toxic principles which could cause many adverse reactions which could culminate in death when taken in large amounts. The seeds are supposed to contain curcin, a toxalbumin which has not been characterized as yet. Being a protein it is rendered inactive by boiling. Symptoms attributed to poisoning by Jatropha occur within 1 hour after ingestion and is characterized by nausea followed by acute abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In high doses it causes depression, syncope, and coma frequently followed by death.

Treatment of curcin toxicity is more supportive rather than definitive. There are no known antidotes to the poisoning with curcin. Patients are given medications to control the gastroenteritis symptoms. [9][16]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Should not be used in pregnancy as traditionally some societies has used it as an abortifacient. [9]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Caution should be observed when using the plant extracts with antihypertensive therapy as it may further suppress blood pressure. [9]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

The whole plant and in particular seed. [3][17][18]


The plant contains jatrophin (curcin) a toxalbumin which inhibits protein synthesis in cells of the intestinal wall and can cause serious if not fatal poisoning. It has been said that even ingestion of one seed can cause serious poisoning. Once absorbed into the blood stream it can cause serious damage to the liver, kidney, adrenals and nerves leading to death. Toxalbumin can cause bleeding lesions which appears like alkaline burns, in the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and intestines. [3][17][18]

Risk management

Due to the high toxicity of the plant, it is advisable that people with young children should not plant this in their gardens. Even though reported cases of poisoning are very rare however, the possible fatality should render this plant unsuitable to be grown in public areas. [18]

Poisonous clinical findings

The sap if enters the eye can cause redness, tearing and swelling. Consumption of the seeds can cause either dilated or constricted pupils. The sap can cause rashes on the skin of people sensitive to them. Upon ingestion of the seeds symptoms are said to develop from 6 hours to 3 days. There would be burning sensation in the mouth and throat followed by nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea often with bleeding. In severe cases ulcers occurs in the mouth, oesophagus and throughout the gastrointestinal tract, resembling chemical burns. Haematuria is common. This is followed by dehydration and death is due to fluid loss and or organ failure. [3][17][18]


There are not specific antidotes or tests specific for toxalbumin is available. Diagnosis is pure based on history and physical examination.

Decontaminate the exposed skin and eyes. Examine the eye for pulillary dilation and constriction and perform fundoscopy to check for retinal haemorrhage and optic neuritis.

Patients with gastrointestinal symptoms should be assessed for signs of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Administer activated charcoal and provide intravenous rehydration and electrolyte replacement together with an antiemetic.

Patients should be observe for at least 8 hours if they are symptom free and kept in the hospital for observation and aggressive management should complications arise. [17][18]

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 632.
  2. Hooker WJ. Curtis’s botanical magazine. Volume 74. London: Reeve, Benham and Reeve, King William Street, Strand; 1848.
  3. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Ballick M. Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. New York: Botanical Garden, New York, 2007; p. 191-192.
  4. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Jatropha podagrica Hook. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mac 23, cited 2016 Aug 11]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-104848.
  5. Chantharaprasang J, van Welzen PC. Jatropha. Flora of Thailand. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Aug 11]. Available from: http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/ThaiEuph/ThJspecies/ThJatropha.htm#Jatropha_podagrica.
  6. Rumzhum NN, Sohrab MH, Al-Mansur MA, Rahman MS, Hasan CM, Rashid MA. Secondary metabolites from Jatropha podagrica Hook. J Physic Sci. 2012;23(1):29-37.
  7. Van den Berg AJ, Horsten SF, Kettenes-van den Bosch JJ. Podacycline A and B, two cyclic peptides in the latex of Jatropha podagrica. Phytochemistry. 1999;42(1):129-133.
  8. IPCS Inchem. Jatropha podagrica. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Aug 11]. Available from: http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/plant/jpoc.htm.
  9. Dalimartha S. Atlas tumbuhan obat Indonesia. Jakarta: Niaga Swadaya, 1999; p. 54-55.
  10. Oliver-Bever B. Medicinal plants of tropical West Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986; p. 94.
  11. Ojewale JAO. Blockade of adrenergic and cholinergic transmission by tetramethylpyrazine. Planta Med. 1981;43(9):1-10.
  12. Ojewale JAO, Odebiyi OO. Neuromuscular and cardiovascular actions of tetramethypyrazine from the stem of Jatropha podagrica. Planta Med. 1980;38(4):332-338.
  13. Ajyelaagbe OO, Adesogan EK, Ekundayo O, Adebiyi BA. The antimicrobial activity of roots of Jatropha podagrica (Hook). Phytother Res. 2000;14(1):60-62.
  14. Odebiyi OO. Antibacterial property of tetramethypyrazine from the stem of Jatropha podagrica. Planta Med. 1980;38(2):144-146.
  15. Adewunmi CO, Odebiyi OO. In vitro schistosomicidal activity of tetramethylpyrazine from Jatropha podagrica Hook. stem bark. Int J Crude Drug Res. 1985;23(3):119-120.
  16. Donald G. Barceloux medical toxicology of natural substances: Foods, fungi, medicinal herbs. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2008; p. 829-830.
  17. Turkington C, Mitchell D. The encyclopedia of poisons and antidotes. New York: Facts on File, 2010; p. 114.
  18. Scott S, Thomas C. Poisonous plants of paradise: First aid and medical treatment of injuries. University of Hawaii Press, 2000; p. 86-90.