Family • Iridaceae - Jatropha curcas Linn. - PURGING NUT TREE, BIG - PURGE NUT - Ma feng shu

Scientific names

Jatropha curcas L.
Jatropha acerifolia Salisb.
Jatropha edulis Cerv.
Curcas adansonii Endl. ex Heynh.
Curcas curcas (L.) Britton & Millsp.
Ricinus americanus Miller
Ricinus jarak Thunb.

Common names

Galumbang (Pamp.)
Kasla (Bis.)
Kirisol (Tag.)
Taba (Ig., Bik., Tag.)
Taba-taba (Tasg.)
Tagumbau (Ilk.)
Tagumbau-na-purau (Ilk.)
Takumbaw (Sbl.)
Tangan-tangan-tuba (Tag.)
Taua-taua (Ilk., Ig.)
Tauua (Ilk.)
Tuba (Ig., Bik., Tag.)
Tubang-bakod (Tag.)
Purging nut tree (Engl.)
Bed bug plant (Engl.)
Big purge nut (Engl.)
Bubble bush (Engl.)
Physic nut tree (Engl.)
Pig nut (Engl.)
Purging nut (Engl.)
Wild castor (Engl.)
Ma feng shu (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

AFRIKAANS: Purgeerboontjie.
ARABIC: Dand barrî, Dand e barri, Dand e nahri, Hhabb el mulûk, Habb el meluk.
BENGALI: Bagbherenda, Erandagachh.
DUTCH: Purgeernoot.
FRENCH: Bagani, Fève d’enfer, Grand médicinier, Grand pignon d’Inde, Gros ricin, Mancenillier béni, Noix médicinale, Pignon de Barbarie, Plante bouteille, Purghère, Ricin d’Amérique, Tuteur de vanille.
GERMAN: Purgiernuß, Purgiernußbaum, Schwarzelrechnuß.
HINDI: Jangli arandi.
ITALIAN: Fagiolo d’India, Fagiolo di Barberia, Fava purgatrice, Noci di purging, Ricino maggiore.
JAPANESE: Yatorofa kurukasu.
MARATHI: Ratanjyot.
NEPALESE: Baghandi, Bathi bal, Hattikane, Nirguni, Sajiba, Sajiva, Sajiyon, Saruva.
PORTUGUESE: Andythygnaco, Figo-do-inferno, Manduigaçu, Mandubi-guaçú, Pinhão bravo, Pinhão-depurga, Pinhão-de-purga, Pinhão-manso, , Pinheiro-de-purga, Pulguiera, Purgante-de-cavalo, Purgueira.
RUSSIAN: Iatrofa, Iatrofa iadovitaia.
SINHALESE: Kaddamanakku.
SPANISH : Arbol de los pinones de Indias, Arbol santo, Avellanes purgante, Frailecillo, Piñón blanco, Piñón de purga, Tártago, Tempate.
SWAHILI: Mbono, Mbono kaburi.
TAMIL: Kadalamanakku, Kattamanakku.
THAI: Ma yao, Sabu dam, Salot dam, Salot yai, Si lot.
TURKISH: Mashal hind fıstığı ağaçı, Kurkas.

Tubang-bakod is a smooth, glabrous, erect, branched shrub 2 to 5 meters high. Branches are stout, cylindric, and green. Leaves are entire, orbicular-ovate, angular or somewhat 3- to 5-lobed, 10 to 18 centimeters long, acuminate with a cordate base. Petioles are long. Flowers are greenish or greenish-white, unisexual, 7 to 8 millimeters in diameter, borne on axillary cymes, the staminate ones villous inside, the petals reflexed. Stamens are10, the filaments of the inner 5, connate. Fruits are capsules, at first fleshy, becoming dry, rounded, with 2 to 3 one-seeded divisions, 3 to 4 centimeters long.


– Very common in and about towns, in thickets and hedges along roadsides throughout the Philippines. The name derives from its cultivation and use as a hedge or fence (bakod).
– Introduced at an early date in colonial history from Mexico.
– Now pantropic.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Pregnancy terminating effect of Jatropha curcas in rats / Ritesh G. et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol 47, Issue 3, 28 July 1995, Pages 117-123 / doi:10.1016/0378-8741(95)01263-D

(2) Anti-inflammatory activity of Jatropha curcas roots in mice and rats / Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2004 Jan;90(1): 11-5

(3) Evaluation of the wound-healing activity of selected traditional medicinal plants from Perú / Journal of ethnopharmacology. 1997 Feb;55(3): 193-200

(4) Disinfectant/antiparasitic activities of Jatropha curcas / Fagbenro-Beyioku A F et al / East African medical journal • 1998, vol. 75, no9, pp. 508-51

(5) Acute Toxicity Studies with Jatropha curcas L / I Abdu-Aguye et al / Human & Experimental Toxicology, Vol. 5, No. 4, 269-274 (1986) / DOI: 10.1177/096032718600500409

(6) Coagulant and anticoagulant activities in Jatropha curcas latex / Omolaja Osonlyl and Funmi Onajobi / Journal of Ethnopharmacology • Volume 89, Issue 1, November 2003, Pages 101-105

(7) A review of Jatropha curcas: an oil plant of unfulfilled promise / Keith Openshaw / Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 19, Issue 1, 1 July 2000, Pages 1-15 / doi:10.1016/S0961-9534(00)00019-2

(8) Jatropha Curcas and Its Potential Applications; A Compilation Paper on Plantation and Application of Jatropha Curcas / Ranjan Parajuli / E-mail:parajuliranjan@yahoo.com

(9) Antimicrobial activity and phytochemical screening of stem bark extracts from Jatropha curcas (Linn) / O. O. Igbinosa, E. O. Igbinosa and O. A. Aiyegoro / African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology Vol. 3(2). pp. 058-062, February, 2009

(10) Sorting Jatropha names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(11) A preliminary study on Jatropha curcas as coagulant in wastewater treatment. / Abidin ZZ, Ismail N, Yunus R, Ahamad IS, Idris A. / Environ Technol. 2011 Jul;32(9-10):971-7.

(12) Jatropha Curcas as a Premier Biofuel: Cost, Growing and Management / Editors: Claude Ponterio and Costanza Ferra / NovaPublishers

(13) Jatropha curcas: Use as a traditional Tswana medicine and its role as a cause of acute poisoning / K. J. Mampane, Prof P. H. Joubert*, I. T. Hay / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, pages 50–51, March 1987 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2650010112

(14) Fatty acid composition and physicochemical properties of Jatropha Curcas oils from Edo and Kaduna states of Nigeria and India / Inekwe U. V., Odey M. O., Gauje B., Dakare A. M., Ugwumma C. D and Adegbe E. S. / Annals of Biological Research, 2012, 3 (10):4860-4864

• Seed has a toxic principle, toxalbumin curcin, belonging to the same group as croton and ricin. Comparatively, curcin causes less gastrointestinal irritation. 8 drops of this oil has been reported to cause severe vomiting, followed by diarrhea.
• Bark contains a considerable amount of chlorophyll, reducing sugars or reducing substances, saponin, a small amount of tannin, resin, and a trace of volatile oil. Bark also yields a wax which is a mixture of melissyl alcohol and its melissinic acid ester.
• Latex contains alkaloids: jatrophine, jatropham and curcain with its anti-cancerous properties.
• Leaves yield alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, phenolic compounds, steroids, terpenoids.
• Leaves contain apigenin, vitexin, isovitexin, etc used for malaria, rheumatic and muscular pains.
• Physic-nut oil consists of glycerides of palmitic, oleic, and linoleic acids.
• Seed contains a yellow fixed oil, 29-40 %, known as Hell oil, Pinhoen oil, Oleum infernale, and Oleum ricini majoris; the activity is greater than castor oil and less that of croton oil. It consists of the glyceride of a characteristic acid, in the same group as ricinoleic and crotonoleic acid, but not identical with either, with an activity greater than castor oil and less than croton oil.

– Bitter-tart tasting, cooling natured, antipyretic, antispasmodic, anti-vomiting, haemostatic, styptic, suppurative.
– Toxic; observe caution with internal use.
– Roots are emetic and purgative.
– Oil of the seed is a drastic purgative.

Parts utilized
· Fresh leaves.
· Collected the year round.

· In the Philippines, oil of seeds used as a drastic purgative.
· Decoction of roots used a cure for diarrhea.
· External applications for bleeding, ulceration of wound, pruritus.
· Dosage: Use fresh leaves, 2 to 3 blades, remove petiole, pound and extract juice, decoct in water.
· Seeds: 1-4 seeds is mildly purgative; an overdose causes drastic purgation.
· Decoction of leaves or roots used for diarrhea.
· Bark, slightly pounded, placed in the mouth as cure for snake bites; also applied to bites of various animals.
· The leaf decoction is also used as a cough remedy and as galactagogue.
· Poultice of bark used for sprains and dislocations. Sap is used for toothaches.
· Leaves are applied to wounds and pruritic lesions.
· A vigorous massaging of the oil onto the abdomen is believed to be abortifacient..
· Decoction of young leaves taken for fevers.
· Infusion of leaves, hot or cold, mixed with lime juice, used as lotion for fevers.
· Twigs used for cleaning teeth.
· Used for scabies, eczema, and ringworm.
· Juice used for toothaches and strengthening the gums.
· Preparation from root-bark applied to sores.
· Emulsion of sap with benzyl benzoate used for scabies, eczema and dermatitis.
· Roots used as antidote for snake bites.
· In other countries, the seed is used as antihelminthic or abortive; the leaves as insecticidal.
· Roots used as antidote against snake venom; root extract used for bleeding gums.
· White latex used as mouth disinfectant; used externally for piles.
· Fresh, viscid juice from the stem used to arrest bleeding or hemorrhage from wounds, ulcers, cuts, and abrasions; used to promote healing by coagulating blood and forming an air-tight film when dry, similar to that produced by collodion.
· In South Africa, traditionally used by the Tswana as laxative.
· In Gambia, leaves used to make mouthwash.
· In the Gold Coast, leaves used as ingredient in enema preparations.
· In Southern Nigeria, used as remedy for jaundice, applied by rectal injection.
· In Malaya used as rubefacient. Malays use the latex as vulnerary.
· In the Cape Verde Islands, used to stimulate secretion of milk.
· In Cambodia, applied to sores and ulcers; the leaves considered insecticidal; the seeds considered abortifacient.
· In Brazil, used as anthelmintic.
· In Goa, root-bark applied externally for rheumatism. Fresh stems are used as toothbrushes, to strengthen the gums and cure bleeding, spongy gums, or gum boils.
· In Madagascar and Guiana as an anti-diarrhetic; latex is applied to decayed teeth and wounds, and used as styptic; the roots given as emetic and purgative.
· In India, applied as cataplasm to the breasts and as lactagogue. Also, used as styptic.
· In Peru, traditionally used for external wound healing and gastric ulcers.
– Curcas Oil / Illuminant / Lubricant: Used as illuminant and lubricant. Belongs to a class of semidrying oils and used in the manufacture of soaps and candles.
– One of the Philippine plants (Tubang bakod, Malunggay, Bani) that has been considered as an alternative biodiesel source. Jatropha is easy to grow with minimum care, maturing in two years. However, unlike malunggay which is gaining preferable status over tubang-bakod (kasla), Jatropha is left with poisonous waste after oil extraction, while all parts of the Malunggay plant are used.

Toxicity !
• Reports of 31 cases acute poisoning in South Africa involving children from accidental ingestion of seeds. Presenting manifestations were nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. (21)

Study Findings
• Antibacterial: Study has shown antibacterial activity against S aureus and E coli.
• Abortifacient: Study has shown a fertility regulatory effect of fruit of J curcas for pregnant rats. The pregnancy interruption occurred soon after implantation, with marked toxicity with extracts given for 10 days.
• Anti-inflammatory: Study confirmed the anti-inflammatory activity of topical JC root powder in paste form in TPA-induced ear inflammation in mice. The anti-inflammatory activity could be due to several mediators and involve the cyclo-oxygenase / prostaglandin pathway.
• Wound-healing: Study with J curcas, A diffusa and P galioides showed significant wound-healing effect.
• Disinfectant / Antiparastic / Antimalarial Study of the sap and leaves of J curcas showed the sap exerted germicidal actions on the S aureus, Bacillus and Micrococcus species. Also showed an inhibitory effect on larval growth of mosquito. Study suggest JC could provide a very cheap and readily available disinfectant and malaria vector control agent.
• Toxicity Studies: Accidental ingestion in children caused a clinical syndrome of restlessness, vomiting and dehydration. A study in mice showed toxic effects manifested as macroscopic anal hemorrhage and death, with post-mortem findings of widespread hemorrhages of the colon and lungs, and and infarction of the liver.
• Coagulant / Anticoagulant Activities: Study showed the whole latex significantly reduced the clotting time of human blood. Diluted, however, it prolonged the clotting time; at high dilutions, it did not clot at all. Results suggest JC possesses both procoagulant and anticoagulant activities.
• Mutagenicity Study: Study on five increasing amounts of latex of J curcas showed not mutagenicity activity.
• Phornbol Esters / Toxins: Phorbol esters are the main toxins in J. curcas seed and oil. In a toxicity study in mice, LD50 indicates purified phorbol esters isolated from the oil are highly toxic to mice and produce severe pathological symptoms. Phorbol esters are present in leaves, stems, flowers and roots and therefore the consumption of J. curcas in any form, oil, seeds, seed cake, or extracts is toxic to animals. In ruminants, force-feeding studies using decorticated seeds caused acute toxicity with dose-dependent 100% mortality.
• Antimicrobial / Phytochemical Screening: Ethanol, methanol and water extracts of stem bark of JC were investigated for antimicrobial activity. All the extracts exhibited antimicrobial activities and appreciable activity against all fungal species tested. Phytochemical screening yielded saponin, steroids, tannin, glycosides, alkaloids and flavonoids.
• Antioxidant / Polyphenolic Content: Study showed a correlation between the amount of phenolic compounds and percentage inhibition of DPPH radicals scavenging activity of the extract. Results suggest a good potential as a source of pharmaceutical based products.
• Termite Repellent: Oil of the physic nut, J. curcas, was evaluated for its barrier and repellent activity against Philippine milk termite Coptotermes vastator. Results showed JC oil had anti-feeding effect, induced reduction in tunneling activity and increased mortality of C. vastator. Toxicity and repellent thresholds were higher than those reported for other naturally occurring compounds tested against the Formosan subterranean termite.
• As Coagulant in Waste Water Treatment: Coagulants are widely used in conventional water and wastewater treatment. Residual coagulant in treated wastewater has been associated with chronic diseases. Alternative environmentally friendly biodegradable coagulants could alleviate these problem. Study evaluated J. curcas seed and presscake to reduce wastewater turbidity after coagulation. Jatropha seed showed to be an effective coagulant with more than 90% turbidity removal. Results suggest JC seed and presscake as a potential coagulant agent.
• Seed Meal As Protein Supplement to Livestock: Studies have shown that J. curcuas seed meal had 58-64% crude protein, with levels of essential amino acids (except lysine) higher than FAO reference protein. Both toxic and non-toxic varieties can be good protein sources for livestock. The seed meal from Jatropha varieties must be detoxified. Heat treatment and a combination of heat and NaOH and NaOCl treatments or extraction with aqueous ethanol or methanol hold promise for detoxification of the toxic varieties for use as Jatropha meals.
• As Premiere Biofuel: Book presents biotechnological methodologies for in vitro propagation and plant breeding for sustainable production of biodiesel. Book also goes beyond the pro-contra debate on biofuels to search for possible sustainable trajectories.
• Oil / Fatty Acid Composition: Fatty acid composition of Jatropha curcas oil from Nigeria and India showed the linoleic acid to be significantly higher than oleic, palmitic, and stearic acid. Results showed the oils have properties for good and quality shelf life, for domestic use if properly and adequately detoxified.