Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Jatropha gossypiifolia
L., Euphorbiaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  Reject, score: 12 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 18 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))
Risk assessment of Jatropha gossypifolia from the Government of Queensland, Australia (PDF format).

Other Latin names:  Jatropha staphysagrifolia Mill.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: bellyache bush, black physicnut, cotton-leaved physic nut, figus nut, red physic nut, wild cassava

French: faux manioc, le lèpre, médicinier bâtard, médicinier noir, médicinier rouge

Marquesan: eitamohoi, eta mohoi, hohoi

Spanish: higuereta cimarrona, piñón negro, purga delfraile, tautuba, túatúa

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Shrub to about 1.5 m tall; leaves membranous, 3-5-lobed, purplish, stick with capitate glandular hairs, slightly serrate, on petioles about 6-9 cm long, blades about 10 cm long and wide or somewhat larger, ciliate; panicle axes purple, 10-15 cm long, sticky-hairy; flowers dark red, just ovary 1 cm broad, petals free; disc lobed; fruit oblong, 2-3-lobed, brown when ripe, about 1.3 cm long" (Stone, 1970; p. 380).

Habitat/ecology:  Forms thickets.  Adapted to a variety of habitats.  Often cultivated as an ornamental.  Seeds are toxic to humans.  "Red physic nut grows on nearly all types of soils within its range. In Puerto Rico, it may be found in areas receiving from 750 to about 2000 mm of annual precipitation. The species is more common in soils with high base saturation, such as dry areas, sites near the ocean, and soils derived from limestone. Red physic nut usually requires disturbance to establish itself and does not compete well with tall grass or heavy weed growth. It is intolerant of shade. Although plants may survive for a season in moderate shade, they need full or nearly full sun for longer-term survival and fruiting. Cattle and horses generally avoid red physic nut, except in extreme shortages of forage, so that the species in often abundant in overgrazed range and poorly managed pastures. It is also common in waste lands, roadsides, poorly tended agricultural fields, and river overflow areas"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).

In Hawai‘i, "cultivated and sparingly naturalized" (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 623). In New Caledonia, "infeste en peuplements denses des pâturages de la partie Nord de la côte Ouest; paraît étre rare ailleurs" (MacKee, 1944; p. 53).  In Australia, "preferred habitats include savanna woodland, riparian areas, monsoon vine forests and coastal foreshores.  It is often a weed of degraded pastures and disturbed river frontages and is commonly associated with old settlements." (Swarbrick & Skarratt, 1994, and Smith, 1995, cited in Csurhes & Edwards, 1998; p. 171).

Propagation:  Seeds. The seeds are ejected away from the parent plant. They can also be transported by water or in mud on vehicles. (Csurhes & Edwards, 1998; p. 171).

Native range:  "Red physic nut is a native of the New World (Burkill 1994). The original range is not known, but today it grows wild from Florida through the West Indies and from Mexico through tropical South America (Howard 1989). It has naturalized in most tropical areas of the world (Burkill 1994)"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Aguijan (Agiguan, Aguihan) Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Aguijan (Agiguan, Aguihan) Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1952) (voucher ID: BISH 143303)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Alamagan Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Alamagan Island introduced
invasive
Fosberg, F. R./Falanruw, M. V. C./Sachet, M.-H. (1975) (p. 30)
Voucher cited: Falanruw 1943 (US)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island introduced
invasive
Fosberg, F. R./Falanruw, M. V. C./Sachet, M.-H. (1975) (p. 30)
Vouchers cited: Anderson 566 (US), Bonham 5 (US, Fo), Fosberg 31360 (US), Moore 405 (US)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1949) (voucher ID: BISH 143300)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1954) (voucher ID: BISH 143302)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Saipan Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Sarigan Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Sarigan Island introduced
invasive
Fosberg, F. R./Falanruw, M. V. C./Sachet, M.-H. (1975) (p. 30)
Voucher cited: Evans 2406 (US, BISH, Fo, NY)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Sarigan Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1966) (voucher ID: BISH 401444)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Tinian Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Tinian Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1958) (voucher ID: BISH 143299)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Tinian Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1952) (voucher ID: BISH 143304)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Tinian Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1945) (voucher ID: BISH 143305)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Federated States of Micronesia
Chuuk Islands
Weno (Moen) Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Denslow, Julie S./Nelson, Duane/Mazawa, Thomas R. (2000) (p. 27)
Federated States of Micronesia
Chuuk Islands
Weno (Moen) Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1980) (voucher ID: BISH 659669)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Ovalau Island introduced
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1981) (pp. 546-547)
Voucher cited: Tothill 727, noted as "becoming naturalized".
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Hiva Oa Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J. (1997) (p. 102)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Hiva Oa Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Hiva Oa Island introduced
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J. (1997) (p. 102)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J. (1997) (p. 102)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Naturalisée
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Stone, Benjamin C. (1970) (p. 380)
Voucher cited: Stone 3997 (GUAM)
Sparingly naturalized.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1964) (voucher ID: BISH 23020)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1949) (voucher ID: BISH 143301)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1965) (voucher ID: BISH 426302)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1970) (voucher ID: BISH 507615)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1966) (voucher ID: BISH 659672)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 623)
Diamond Head
New Caledonia
Îles Loyauté (Loyalte Islands)
Île Maré introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 53)
Voucher cited: Däniker 2995 (Z)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands introduced
invasive
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 100)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
Gargominy, Oliver/Bouchet, Philipe/Pascal, Michel/Jaffre, Tanguy/Tourneu, Jean-Christophe (1996) (p. 380)
Infeste en peuplements denses des pâturages du Nord de la côte Ouest; rare ailleurs.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 53)
Vouchers cited: Franc 1332, MacKee 26492, Suprin in MacKee 43049
Spontané
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Koror (Oreor) Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngerkebesang Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 141)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngerkebesang Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1946) (voucher ID: BISH 143296)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngerkebesang Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1946) (voucher ID: BISH 143297)
Taxon name on voucher: Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands introduced
invasive
Merrill, Elmer D. (1923) (p. 449)
In waste places at low altitudes, locally abundant.
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 171)
Declared noxious weed.
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 171)
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 183)
Colombia
Colombia
Colombia (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Honduras
Honduras
Honduras (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of)   Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 199)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Perú
Perú
Perú (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 52)
Cultivated only
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Lavergne, Christophe (2006)
"Envahissant"

Comments:  Weakly invasive on Saipan and Tinian—only on very disturbed areas and not invading forests.

A noxious weed in the Northern Territory, Australia (Smith, 2002; pp. 30-31).

Control: 

Physical: Single plants may be dug out, but the tuberous root system must be removed.

Chemical: "With the larger colonies, slash close to the soil surface and immediately swab the cut surface with a picloram + 2,4-D or picloram + triclopyr mixture in water.  Note that slashing by itself is of little use as it encourages regeneration from the roots.  The picloram mixtures are also effective when used as basal bark applications.  Useful control may also be obtained with hexazinone as a soil injection and with glyphosate, triclopyr and imazapyr applied as overall sprays"  (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; pp. 429-430).


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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 8 MAY 2017.