Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Jatropha macrorhiza, Ragged Nettlespurge

Ragged Nettlespurge has large bright pink flowers. Both petals and sepals are large. Jatropha macrorhiza Ragged Nettlespurge has bright green3-lobed spherical fruit, which is botanically known as a capsule. The 3-lobed fruits are equal to or larger than the flowers. Note the fruits are smooth or glabrous. Jatropha macrorhiza Ragged Nettlespurge is a dramatic looking plant with large bright green leaves. The leaves are palmately lobed, each with 7 to 9 lobes. The leaves may also be purplish. Jatropha macrorhiza Ragged Nettlespurge is found on hillsides, mesas, sandy washes, grassland and plains from Upper Sonoran Desert through Chaparral and Oak-Woodland communities. Jatropha macrorhiza

Scientific Name: Jatropha macrorhiza
Common Name: Ragged Nettlespurge

Also Called: Ragged Jatropha, Spanish (Jirawilla, Jicamilla, Bahada)

Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge or Euphorbia Family

Synonyms: (Jatropha arizonica, Jatropha macrorhiza var. septemfida)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 20 inches (50 cm)

Growth Form: Forb/herb; tuberish root; stems erect and may be purplish, foliage glabrous, exudes a clear latex when injured,

Leaves: Green, alternate, palmately lobed with 7 to 9 lobes, lobes irregularly toothed, single teeth with a slender bristle, leaves may be purplish, petioles present.

Flower Color: Pink, bright pink; 5 petals, sepals almost as long as the petals; flowers in dense cymes; fruit a 3-lobed capsule equal to or larger than the flower, fruits glabrous.

Flowering Season: May to October

Elevation: 3,500 to 7,500 feet - (1067 to 2286 m)

Habitat Preferences: Hillsides, mesas, sandy washes, grasslands and plains; Upper Sonoran Desert through Chaparral and Oak-Woodland communities.

Recorded Range: Jatropha macrorhiza is rare in the United States where it is found in AZ, NM and TX. The most reliable populations occur in Arizona, in Apache, Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties. In New Mexico species occur in Hidalgo County and in Jeff Davis County in Texas. In North America it extends southward from the United States into Mexico (Chihuahua, Sonora).

North America & US County Distribution Map for Jatropha macrorhiza.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: The genus Jatropha consists of herbs, subshrubs, shrubs or trees. In North America there are about 14 species in the southwestern United States in AZ, NM and TX and in 1 species in Florida. Worldwide, The Plant List lists 188 accepted species names and a further 127 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 4 species of Jatropha, California, Nevada and Utah have 0 species, New Mexico has 1 species and Texas has 3 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There is 1 recognized variety in Jatropha macrorhiza;
Jatropha macrorhiza var. macrorhiza, Ragged Nettlespurge (AZ, NM, TX).
Jatropha macrorhiza var. septemfida, Ragged Nettlespurge (excluded).

Comments: Jatropha macrorhiza is a very dramatic looking plant with large bright green leaves and bright pink flowers followed by large bright green rounded fruit. As with many, if not most Euphorbiaceae this species is poisonous.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Physicnut or Limberbush, Jatropha cuneata.

The genus Jatropha is a derivation of two Greek words; "iatros" for doctor or physician and trophe for food. The species epithet "macrorhiza means large root, a reference to the large taproot which is poisonous.

No information available.

Date Profile Completed: 06/30/2019
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search, (accessed 06/27/2019)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 06/27/2019).
Bijan Dehgan, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 12 | Euphorbiaceae |5. Jatropha macrorhiza Bentham, Pl. Hartw. 8. 1839. | Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 06/22/2019).
Crumbacher, L., Coburn, F. S., 2015