Jatropha Cathartica (Berlandieri) Care Sheet, Phillipe de Vosjoli

Origin: Mexico/USA (Texas)

Usually offered as J. Berlandieri, this inhabitant of the American southwest and Mexico is one of our finest native pachyforms, forming a subglobose underground caudex of up to eight inches in diameter, topped with bluish foliage and bright orange-red flowers. It is usually grown with the caudex raised about half to two thirds above the surface. If it weren't for the poor success of growing plants from seed, this species would be more readily available than it is. it is one of the more colorful of the caudiciforms.


Most of the plants offered are wild-collected and are usually sold bare-root. Some care is required to initially establish them but this is not a difficult species. It grows when temperatures are warm and goes dormant when the weather is cooler and possibly also in response to a short photoperiod. Can be kept dry when dormant, but I still offer a light watering every couple of weeks. I have had plants in my greenhouse wake up in February after less than two months of dormancy. it requires full sun to 30% shade to develop the attractive bluish leaves and to flower.


Monoecious, unisexual flowers. This species flowers throughout its growing season, and readily produces seed if hand-hollinated, but the seed are difficult to germinate.


To date, sold mainly as wild-collected plants. Field cultivation may be a viable option for farming this attractive species.

Phillipe de Vosjoli is the author of Pachyforms: A Guide to Growring Pachycaul and Caudiciform Plants, one of the two standard references in the pachyform hobby.





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