By Doug Rowland
This species is occasionally known as Jatropha cathartica and not very common in collections here. It is highly prized as a neat, compact and handsome plant, bearing many small and pretty red flowers in midsummer, being very suitable for the show bench.
The spherical, rough, light-brown caudex can be 2″ to 7″ in diameter or more in cultivation. From this, annual shoots will grow, in early summer. The fine blue green leaves grow on short stems, are seven partite, and very handsome.
The flower stem grows around 6″ above the leaves, and there are many small red flowers to complete the canopy, some being male and others female.
Special care should be taken with this plant. It has a short midsummer growing season and should only be lightly watered then, otherwise keep dry. The species is tender and will require a minimum of 55/60F in winter. In autumn, flowers and stems die back and the plant rests completely until growth begins again in the following June.
Propagation is by seeds, which are seldom available, but may be produced if you have enough plants and a very warm summer. This species is not often available but can occasionally can be found in specialised nurseries.
The habitat is Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley area and adjacent Mexico.
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