Jatropha dioica

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Jatropha dioica
Jatropha dioica 1.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Jatropha
Species: J. dioica
Binomial name
Jatropha dioica

J. d. var. dioica
J. d. var. graminea McVaugh[2]


Jatropha spathulata (Ortega) Müll.Arg.
Mozinna spathulata Ortega[1]

Jatropha dioica is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, that is native to Texas in the United States as well as Mexico as far south as Oaxaca. Common names include leatherstem and sangre de drago.[1] The specific name refers to the dioecious nature of the plants.[3]


J. dioica forms colonies from subterranean rhizomes.[4] The arching, succulent stems reach a height of 20-60 cm and have few branches. They are tough[5] and sufficiently flexible to be tied into overhand knots without breaking.[3] The orange rootstock spreads to a length of around 1 m.[6] Leaves are arranged simply, alternately, or fascicularly and are clustered on short shoots extending from the stems.[5] They are subsessile and have entire margins. The leaves of the nominate variety are linear and measure up to 6 × 1 cm, whereas the leaves of J. dioica var. graminea may be 2 to 3-lobed and measure up to 6.5 × 0.5 cm. Male inflorescences are clustered cymes. Their flowers possess 3.5 mm sepals, 5 mm petals, and 10 stamens. Female flowers are urceolate with 5 mm petals that are recurved at the tips.[7] Blooming takes place during the spring and early summer.[8] The fruit is a 5 × 12 mm[7] capsule[5] divided into 1 to 2 cells. Seeds are subglobose and measure 1 × 1 cm.[7]


Latex is produced by a non-articulated laticifer network composed of 5 to 7 cells.[9] It changes from clear-yellow to blood red as it is exposed to air,[6] hence its Spanish name sangre de drago, "dragon's blood". The roots contain riolozatrione (C20H26O3), a diterpene with antimicrobial properties.[10] Sheep and goats experience severe gastroenteritis, vomiting, and abdominal pain upon consumption of the plant.[11] Leatherstem is able to safely absorb a relatively high amount of zinc (6249 mg/kg).[12]

Habitat and range[edit]

The nominate variety occurs in southern and western Texas,[13] Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, and from Durango to Oaxaca. J. dioica var. graminea is found from Chihuahua to Zacatecas[14] as well in the Trans-Pecos of Texas.[5] Its type specimen was collected in Jimulco, Coahuila.[14]


J. dioica is traditionally used in the treatment of dental issues such as gingivitis, loose teeth, bleeding gums, and toothache.[15] The latex is an astringent[6] and may also be used as a red dye.[8] Leatherstem is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental in xeriscapes or rock gardens.[16]


Sangre de drago acts as a nurse plant for small cacti such as Lophophora species.[17] The seeds are eaten by white-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica).[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Taxon: Jatropha dioica Sessé". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2005-02-08. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  2. ^ "Jatropha dioica". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  3. ^ a b Manhart, Jim. "Santa Elena Canyon". Big Bend National Park. Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  4. ^ Dehgan, p. 48
  5. ^ a b c d Everitt, J. H.; Dale Lynn Drawe; Robert I. Lonard (2002). Trees, Shrubs, and Cacti of South Texas. Texas Tech University Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-89672-473-0. 
  6. ^ a b c d Powell, A. Michael (1998). Trees and Shrubs of the Trans-Pecos and Adjacent Areas. University of Texas Press. pp. 223–224. ISBN 978-0-292-76573-3. 
  7. ^ a b c Carter, S. (2004). Urs Eggli, ed. Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants. Volume 5: Dicotyledons. Birkhäuser. p. 206. ISBN 978-3-540-41966-2. 
  8. ^ a b "Leatherstem, Sangra de Drago, Sangregrado, Sangre de Grado, Tecote Prieto, Tocote Prieto, Telondillo, Tlapalezpatli, Pinon del Cerro, Coatli, Torte Amarillo, Drago Jatropha dioica". Benny Simpson's Texas Native Shrubs. Texas A & M University. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  9. ^ Agrawal, Anurag A.; Kotaro Konno (2009). "Latex: A Model for Understanding Mechanisms, Ecology, and Evolution of Plant Defense Against Herbivory" (PDF). Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 40: 311–331. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.110308.120307. 
  10. ^ Devappa, Rakshit K.; Harinder P. S. Makkar and Klaus Becker (2011). "Jatropha Diterpenes: a Review" (PDF). Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 88: 301–322. doi:10.1007/s11746-010-1720-9. 
  11. ^ McGinty, Allan; Rick Machen. Judy Winn, ed. "Reducing Livestock Losses to Toxic Plants" (PDF). Texas Agricultural Extension Service. p. 13. 
  12. ^ González, R. Carrillo; M.C.A. González-Chávez (November 2006). "Metal accumulation in wild plants surrounding mining wastes" (PDF). Environmental Pollution 144 (1): 84–92. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2006.01.006. 
  13. ^ "Jatropha dioica Cerv. leatherstem". USDA PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  14. ^ a b Dehgan, p. 53
  15. ^ Kay, Margarita Artschwager (1996). Healing with Plants. University of Arizona Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-186-51646-5. 
  16. ^ "Jatropha dioica Sessé ex Cerv.". Native Plant Information Network. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  17. ^ "Flora that is commonly associated with the Lophophora species". Cactus Conservation Institute. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 


  • Dehgan, Bijan; Grady Linder Webster (1979). University of California Publications in Botany. Volume 74: Morphology and Infrageneric Relationships of the Genus Jatropha (Euphorbiaceae). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-09585-4.