Berlandier's Nettlespurge
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Berlandier's Nettlespurge
P Introduced Photo: Nidhan Singh
Common name: Berlandier's Nettlespurge, Purgative Jatropha, Baseball Plant, Buddha's Belly
Botanical name: Jatropha cathartica    Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)
Synonyms: Adenoropium berlandieri, Jatropha berlandieri

Berlandier's Nettlespurge is a perennial herb that grows from an enlarged, tuberlike woody root (caudex). It is deciduous, losing both stems and leaves, and spends the winter in a dormant state. The large caudex is spherical, pastel-white, and up to 20 cm wide and 30 cm tall, or more. It is underground in the wild but becomes exposed if cultivated in a container. Stems reach a length of 30 cm and have leaf-stalks up to 17 cm long. Leaves are gray-green, palmate, very deeply lobed five to seven times, and up to 10 cm long. The flowers are showy, bright pink to poppy-red, and arrayed in loose clusters at the ends of long flower-cluster-stalks. Each inflorescence bears individual flowers up to 12 mm wide, of which 3-4 are female and 10-12 are male. It blooms throughout the growing season from February to November, but mainly in summer. The fruit is a green, pea-like three-lobed capsule containing three seeds. Its native range is S. Central USA to NE Mexico. It is cultivated elsewhere as a garden plant.

Identification credit: Nidhan Singh Photographed in cultivation in Delhi.

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