This Caribbean native is a lush evergreen that is often grown as a mixed shrub or trimmed into a small tree. Jatropha produces masses of bright green leaves on multiple slender stalks that sometimes present a “weeping” appearance. Leaves vary in shape and new growth is often bronze in color with brown undersides. Flowers emerge on several stems simultaneously and are one inch wide, clustered and bright red. The jatropha blooms year-round in Southern Florida. It is attractive as a foundation plant in flowerbeds, as a border or potted near swimming pools.
The jatropha flourishes in almost any soil and prefers bright, sunny locations. Once established it needs watering only when the soil is visibly dry. Jatropha can grow to a height of 15 feet with an equal spread. Since flowers bloom on existing growth, the jatropha can be pruned at any time without impacting flowering. The jatropha produces a milky white sap in stalks and stems that is irritating to the skin. Take care while trimming. The seeds of the jatropha are toxic. Exercise caution when planting in areas frequented by children or pets.Studded with bright red blooms, the jatropha provides year-round color and is attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.