Characteristics of Bellyache Bush Tree (Jatropha gossypifolia) in the Wild

Jatropha gossypifolia
Bellyache bush or Black physicnut is a flowering plant in the Euphorbiaceae family. This plant is native to Mexico, South America, India, and the Caribbean islands.

In Puerto Rico, Bellyache bush is declared a noxious weed and is listed as a Class 2 pest, while in northern Australia, including Queensland the Bellyache bush tree is naturalized. Whereas in New Caledonia, this plant was introduced in 1903 as an ornamental plant.


Characteristics of Bellyache Bush Leaf

Jatropha gossypifolia Leaf
Source :

The young leaves are sticky and dark purple. The leaf arrangement is only at the top of the stem, has three lobes, has fine hair on the margins and petiole.


Characteristics of Bellyache Bush Flower

Jatropha gossypifolia Flower
Source : houmeau

Bellyache bush flowers appear at the tip of the stem, small, red with a yellow center, grow in clusters, and are followed by poisonous cherry-sized pods.


Characteristics of Bellyache Bush Fruit

Jatropha gossypifolia Fruit
Source :

Bellyache bush fruit is slightly rounded rectangular. Once ripe, the fruit will crack and scatter the seeds. Because of this, Bellyache bush saplings can grow not far from the mother tree.

The seed is very strong, it can survive even when stored for more than 10 years.


Characteristics of Bellyache Bush Tree

Jatropha gossypifolia Tree
Source : Cumming

The Bellyache bush tree grows as a small, tenuous tree, its trunk is upright, and has yellowish-white sap. The tree can reach a height of 4 meters in the wild, with a trunk diameter of about 6-8 cm.

The Bellyache bush tree is tolerant of a wide variety of soil types, it can grow in moist and calcareous soils in low to moderate areas.


The leaves are used as anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anti-diabetic, anti-asthma, and emenagogue. The root is used as a diuretic and gastric medicine. The seeds are collagen, the sap is used to treat burns. And many other benefits of the Bellyache bush tree as a source of traditional medicine.

WARNING: This plant is very poisonous to its fruit, so you need to be aware of or avoid it!


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