Jatropha podagrica (Buddha Belly Plant)

Jatropha podagrica (Buddha Belly Plant)

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Scientific Name

Jatropha podagrica Hook.

Common Names

Buddha Belly Plant, Buddha Belly, Bottleplant Shrub, Bottle Euphorbia, Purgingnut, Gout Plant, Gout Stick, Purging Nut, Guatemalan Rhubarb, Guatemala Rhubarb, White Rhubarb, Goutystalk Nettlespurge, Tartogo

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Jatropheae
Genus: Jatropha


Jatropha podagrica is a tropical succulent shrub that grows up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall. It has a large, bottle-like, grey-skinned, knobby caudex and green, smooth, waxy leaves that are up 12 inches (30 cm) across. Flowers are small, coral-like, and bright red.

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USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 45 °F (+7.2 °C).

How to Grow and Care

The key to growing successful Jatropha is to achieve the proper balance between moisture and drainage. They typically appreciate a steady water supply, but the most popular species cannot tolerate being submerged or soaked and will quickly succumb to root rot. Many of the popular Jatropha species make excellent small trees for a conservatory or sunny corner. Keep them well pruned, so they don't outgrow their space too soon. Jatrophas are vulnerable to pests, including aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and whitefly. If possible, identify the infestation as early as possible and treat with the leave toxic option.

Jatropha can be propagated by seed (if you're fortunate enough to get sides) or by stem cuttings. To take stem cuttings, remove a small piece of stem, dip it in rooting hormone, then put into a small pot with seedling starter soil. Place in a warm, bright place and wait for new growth to emerge. See more at How to Grow and Care for Jatropha.


Jatropha podagrica is native to Mexico (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz), Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.


  • Jatropha podagrica 'Yellow Flowers'


  • Back to genus Jatropha
  • Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus

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Plants→Jatropha→Buddha Belly Plant (Jatropha podagrica)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit:Shrub
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Soil pH Preferences:Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness:Zone 9a -6.7 °C (20 °F) to -3.9 °C (25 °F)
Plant Height :3-6 feet
Plant Spread :2-4 feet
Pops open explosively when ripe
Fruiting Time:Year Round
Flower Color:Orange
Bloom Size:Under 1"
Flower Time:Year Round
Other: Year Round in the tropics
Suitable Locations:Xeriscapic
Uses:Medicinal Herb
Edible Parts:Stem
Eating Methods:Tea
Wildlife Attractant:Butterflies
Resistances:Tolerates dry shade
Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Toxicity:Fruit is poisonous
Other: Sap is poisonous
Propagation: Seeds:Scarify seeds: Will speed up germination. Self seeding if planted in ground.
Needs specific temperature: Simulate tropical climate.
Days to germinate: Few if fresh.
Depth to plant seed: Will germinate on ground like a succulent. Caudex will then probe into the ground.
Sow in situ
Start indoors
Can handle transplanting
Pollinators:Various insects
Containers:Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous:Tolerates poor soil
Awards and Recognitions: RHS AGM
Conservation status:Least Concern (LC)

Ornamental pachycaul with a swollen base, deciduous leaves, and bright orange or red flowers. Native to Central America. Looks good when leafy, looks good when leafless (especially when grown to favor the bottle form), looks great in bloom. Relatively common in cultivation. Monoecious and self fertile.

The form of this plant can be quite different depending on where and how it's grown. In the ground, it loses its "fat" look and grows much taller (to about 6 feet). In containers, especially given limited space, it will be a stouter, shorter plant. You can also prune it to favor this form. Strong light and excellent drainage are important. Leaves may grow bigger in partially shaded locations.

In tropical climates this plant may flower and grow year round. In subtropical climates it may lose most or all of its leaves in the fall or winter. Do not overwater at this time. When the plant is in leaf and temperatures are warm, water regularly.

Buddha Belly Plants for Sale Online

Buddha Belly Plants (Jatropha podagrica) are tropical succulent shrubs that make a stunning ornamental houseplant. These plants can grow 5 to 8 feet tall in their native Mexican and Nicaraguan tropical landscapes, but they typically grow to 2 to 3 feet tall in containers and indoors. They can only be grown outdoors in zones 9 to 11.

Buddha Belly plants from the jatropha species, also known as Bottle Euphorbia or Gout plants, can be identified with their large, round, grey reservoir trunks - the trunk is what inspires the name 'Buddha Belly'. They also have large, fig-shaped, lobed leaves and small ornamental red flowers. The delicate red flowers attract both hummingbirds and butterflies.

Jatropha podagrica bloom in spring and summer, and they will lose their leaves and go dormant during the winter months. You can have these plants as outdoor container plants and then bring them inside before the weather drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer bright direct light and will tolerate partial shade. Buddha Belly plants are drought tolerant and prefer to dry out between waterings.

All parts of Buddha Belly plants are toxic. The sap causes dermatitis, or sometimes more severe skin irritation, and their fruit will cause nausea or other extreme reactions if ingested. Keep your Jatropha plants away from children and pets.

Propagation of Buddha Belly plants is easiest via seeds, but they can be propagated with cuttings as well. To collect the seeds safely, tie a small cloth bag around the flowers hen they produce their green fruit capsules - when they burst and drop their seeds the bag will safely catch the seeds for you.

Buddha Belly plants will grow slowly, but they thrive with new soil every year. It is recommended to repot your Jatropha plant each year with a pot no more than 1 to 2 inches wider than the last pot (unless it is not ready to go a size up). These make a stunning and unique ornamental addition to your home, and they are easy to take care of as well.

Growing Zone: 9-11
Mature Height: 2 to 3 Feet in containers, 5 - 8 feet in native environment
Mature Width: 1 to 2 Feet
Classification: Succulent houseplant
Sunlight: Direct light to partial shade
Flower Color: Red-orange to scarlet, blooms in spring and summer
Habit: Upright steady growth
Foliage: Green fig-shaped deciduous leaves
Soil Condition: Neutral to slightly acidic, well draining
Water Requirements: Moderate, likes to dry out between waterings slightly
Uses: Ornamental houseplant, great for patio container gardens, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

This Plants Growzone: 10-11

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