Scientific Name:
Jatropha curcas
Flower Color:
fields, woodlands, roadsides, hedges, waste areas

Geographical Distribution

Physic nut distribution - United States

Physic Nut

Jatropha curcas

Purghera, Beechnuts, beech, Cuban physic nut, Brazilian stinging nut, Curcas bean, Purge nut, Barbados nut, Black vomit nut
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Physic nut (Jatropha curcas) is an upright shrub or small tree that is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. It was introduced to many tropical and subtropical areas worldwide for its use as a garden ornamental, however it is considered an invasive weed in many areas, including parts of Australia.

J. curcas has thick, often greenish stems which exude a watery sap when cut. It produces small, 5-petaled greenish-yellow flowers, borne in branched clusters. It develops dull yellow, hairless, fruiting capsules that turn dark brown when ripe. They split open to release two or three black seeds.

Toxic components
All parts of J. curcas contain a purgative oil and a phytotoxin or toxalbumin (curcin) similar to ricin in castor oil. Phytotoxins or toxalbumins are large, complex protein molecules of high toxicity. They resemble bacterial toxins in structure and physiological effects. Ingestion of J. curcas is quickly fatal; within 15 to 20 minutes symptom start to appear.