Jatropha Species, Bottleplant Shrub, Buddha Belly Plant

Jatropha podagrica

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Jatropha (JAT-roh-fuh) (Info)
Species: podagrica (pod-AG-ree-kuh) (Info)


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Dark Green


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Seed is poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Under 1"

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Clayton, California

Fairview, California

Garden Grove, California

Goleta, California

Hidden Meadows, California

Palm Springs, California

Roseville, California

San Bernardino, California

San Diego, California

San Rafael, California

Santa Rosa, California

Simi Valley, California

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Bonita Springs, Florida

Bradley, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Clermont, Florida

Deland, Florida(2 reports)

Delray Beach, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida(3 reports)

Green Cove Springs, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Lake City, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Miami, Florida

Milton, Florida

Naples, Florida

Orlando, Florida(2 reports)

Ormond Beach, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Palm Coast, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Safety Harbor, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida(2 reports)

Sarasota, Florida(2 reports)

Summerland Key, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Venice, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida(2 reports)

Blackshear, Georgia

Lahaina, Hawaii

Des Moines, Iowa

Lawrence, Kansas

Kenner, Louisiana

Mandeville, Louisiana

Marlborough, Massachusetts

Bridgewater, New Jersey

New Bern, North Carolina

Miami, Oklahoma

Portland, Oregon(2 reports)

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Greenwood, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Deer Park, Texas

Freeport, Texas

Fulton, Texas

Houston, Texas

Humble, Texas(2 reports)

Killeen, Texas

Pearland, Texas

Portland, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Bellingham, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 19, 2017, MichaelK29 from Lutz,
United States wrote:

Here, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Jatropha's are common. I do believe due to the Sun being lower in Winter, the leaves do turn yellow and drop, however the fresh green tips begin to grow well in Spring, when the Earth begins it's tilt to have longer and higher Sunshine.


On Nov 18, 2017, Mark_B from Garden Grove, CA wrote:

I sowed one seed on 10-31-2017. It came up on 11-10-2017. This is in the Los Angeles, California area. The seeds are about 50% to 60% viable.


On May 11, 2017, Witoon from Vancouver ,
Canada wrote:

I am so excited to tell you since you didn't know that when you have this plant at home it is like you have a great external wound healer. Yes, I know this plant is poisonous but I have my stories to convince you that it is ok to use externally.

I recently visited Thailand, my home country. I was just admiring this arty weird looking plant. I imagined it in a tray-like bonsai pottery; it would look so nice. My aunt was so excited to tell her stories about this plant. One was when she was working in a neighbor country, Laos. She got introduced to use it to heal her abscess. Another story was about a guy got cut by an ax on his leg when doing some work around our house. He cut the shrub to heal his serious wound and the guy was showing his wound in that evening and it l... read more


On Apr 3, 2016, camille4 from Fulton, TX wrote:

I have a question. I started about 6 plants from seed last fall and as they grew one leaf, it turned colder and I brought them onto my porch (I live in zone 9) and we had a very mild winter - no freeze. Now my buddhas are back outside but they have not put on a new leaf. I also have a couple that are 2 years old that have never put on leaves but have roots and are alive. My mother plant died and I love this plant. Anyone know if these starts will put on leaves? They are about 4" ta;;/


On Jul 12, 2014, pinjo from CADIZ CITY,
Philippines wrote:

Good day, I just would like to ask, the Buddha Belly Plant is a some kind of Ginseng? and ginseng as I have known ( correct me if im wrong) that has many cure by drinking it in the form of tea. So my question is, Is this Buddha Belly Plant is POISONOUS? I have lots of these in my backyard garden and some were grown many years already. How could I upload some pics.


On Aug 7, 2012, Floridoug from St. Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is great and easy to grow, almost a weed. I've grown all the ones I have in pots; I think they may grow slightly differently in the ground (perhaps not getting quite as big a caudex and growing faster).

Growing from seed: These are very easy to grow from seed. Ive grown so many from seed, its almost overwhelming. I find it really hard to kill a seedling, so I have many, many 1 gallon plastic pots with these in them. As they grow, they start out as a thick stemmed seedling. Eventually, they form a slight bump at what might seem to be too high on the trunk. This gets fatter and fatter, but the plant keeps growing. Eventually, this process winds up with the plant looking more like one would expect from commonly seen photos, with the caudex near the bottom and leave... read more


On Jan 24, 2012, buddabelly from Lawrence, KS wrote:

I'm hoping for a positive or encouraging response to my question. Last summer I planted 3 budda bellys from seed in 3 separate small pots. I live in Kansas (zone 5) and took the 6 inch stalks? to my basement grow lites in the early fall. My plants have not done anything since I brought them inside. They are 6" tall and 1/2 " wide. The top is a little wider. I don't know what to expect as I assumed the base of the plant would widen, not the top on a skinny stem. Any info on what to do will be appreciated.


On Dec 18, 2010, tchb from Zephyrhills, FL wrote:

I grow these in central Florida, zone 8b, as a container plant. It has survived frosty temps, but I loose them to any freeze. Nice set of large showy leaves. The "bottle" is spiny, so be careful. Their unique flame orange blossom stem holds out small red flowers. And I have had seed pods form even in a container. Leaves fall in winter, so I just put it inside to protect it and take it back out in March.


On Nov 2, 2010, dacouick from Greenwood, SC wrote:

A friend gave me a plant about 8 years ago. Her Mother-In-Law gave her one and and no one knew the name of the plant until I found it on this site today. We are so excited to finally know the name. The original plant is now 30" tall to the top of the bulb, leaves and pods are another 18" tall. I have planted many seeds and have given plants to friends. I have the plants in pots which I put outside during the summer in full sunlight. As the temperature drops to 50 degrees, I bring it into my enclosed back porch for a few weeks and then into the house for the winter months. The leaves fall off and new growth comes back during the winter. When the weather warms and there is no chance of freezing, I put them on the back porch for a few weeks and then they go out on the back deck for th... read more


On Apr 25, 2010, pennyone from San Diego, CA wrote:

I have a Buddha's Belly that has been in the ground approximately 10 years. It is about 8" in diameter and about 14-16 " tall. It has had many seedlings that popped up in the bed and I have transplanted some when they developed nice knobby stems: about two years. I garden outside my apartment in Ocean Beach (San Diego) and the "soil" is truly sand with hardly any humus. Except for a mysterious mini-critter that attacks at night (snail?) it has been bug free. Giant whitefly seems to prefer the plumerias to the Jatropha.


On Jan 21, 2010, lussier1 from brisbane,
Australia wrote:

my bottleplant is around 7ft tall and about 6ft wide it has about 15 branchers.it lives under other biger trees filterd sun mostlly shade. has lush big leafs and many bunchers of small redish flowers .from these flower bunchers will come 1 to about [7-- is most iv had-- ] -green thumb size seed pods .were there is 1 to 3 seeds ,. now the fun part watch seed pod after a few weeks in the morning it will start dying by the afternoon the pod splits 3 ways with a "pop" sending each seed 2;3and 4 meters away. i pull of seed pods just before thay go brown ish and put in a jar 1 ather thing i do is pull of old flower stems there you go thanks.


On Jul 15, 2009, avantgardnr from Bellingham, WA wrote:

I have had this plant for about 5 years. I left for 15 months to live abroad and my renters cared for the plant. It is still alive but has had no leaves or blooms since I returned (about 8 months). Before I left it was a beautiful plant that behaved just as expected with lots of leaves except in winter and beautifuI blooms year-round. I would like to prune it in the hope that it might start some growth but have not found any helpful pruning info for jatropha podgrica. If anyone has any ideas about pruning or getting it to sprout leaves/blooms again, I would be most grateful.


On Jul 5, 2009, rhochrys from Des Moines, IA wrote:

My buddha belly plant is about 16" tall. The top has completely stopped blooming. In fact, there is only 1 side that has 1 leaf now and a flower.

I have owned the plant 3 years now. When I first got the plant it bloomed beautifully at the top but now it doesn't do much at all. I'm not sure what to do!

Any ideas on how I can rejuvenate the plant to make it grow or bloom out of the top again?


On Jan 13, 2009, lefthandedsnake from Taunggyi,
Myanmar wrote:

this is from the Philippine point of view.

It grows well, and can be brought indoors, thus making a great ornament. it is very easy to cultivate, and even a toddler could raise it (I started at the age of 12).

Warning: To the Filipinos who are reading this, please be warned that this is what Filipinos commonly know as ginseng. It's poisonous. It can do more harm to you than good. Please don't consume.


On Jul 2, 2008, happgarden from Kansas City (Joyce), MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

Good friend gave me this plant. This is my first year with it. So far it has been great. It did have a seed forming and se told me just to hang a plastic baggie over the pod. I did and when it exploded it exploded right into the bag. I have two seeds now. I suppose if the seed pod is straight up in the air instead of on the side I would get like a gause cloth and tie around it.
Love the plant.


On Aug 11, 2007, idaho_kerpa from Boise, ID wrote:

My wife and I LOVE this unique plant. Our friends as well, so we are trying to capture seeds and raise some seedlings for other people to share it's wonderful characteristics... BUT I'm not sure what to look for in seeds. I notice in one of the pictures a green bud atop a stem which looks like a pod??? So far I have yet to see anything resembling this on our Buddha; is there anything I can do to gently coax some seeds from our little friend?

Ed & Victoria


On Dec 12, 2006, sube1984 from Camarillo, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I grew this plant from seed 3 years back, it continues to thrive and has begun to flower for me almost continually, i moved it from moorpark, ca to goleta, ca where quite surprisingly the nights have been quite cooler (lower 30's) i brought it in the first 3 nights, but after that it was survival of the fittest and it has done just fine. i occasionally get mealybug, but with a dab of rubbing oil or a spray of neem oil, the problem has cleared right up. i havent witnessed the bees and hummingbirds on it, but i am rarely home during the day. also, it has failed to provide any seeds once flowering, but i hope with coming maturity that it will provide some for me.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg from San Antonio, TX wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Nov 27, 2006, lg wrote:

As I received this from a good neighbor last year prior to her death, I didn't know how to care for it, nor what it was. This site and other websites helped me ID it. I'm glad I checked this site as it gave me info on how to care for it during the winter. I don't know if it has ever bloomed, but if it does, I'll post another photo.


On Jul 14, 2006, TxTurqoize from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I absolutely love my buddha belly...especially since I grew it from a seed. So easy to care for...and so unusual looking! I can't wait to see it bloom after looking at the other pics... :)


On Jun 19, 2006, thelabaffs from Houston, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

I was given this plant as a gift 16 years ago. It was a 2 year old plant at that time. I admit I don't treat it well sometimes. Occasional watering when it looks dry. Full afternoon sun on my back patio (Houston area). I bring it in when they say it is going to dip below freezing and leave it inside with maybe one watering till I put it back outside in Feb. My mother plant is in an 18" pot getting ready to put into a new 24". It is probably 5 feet tall now and I expect it to explode because it has been very root bound for probaly 3 years. The leaves when I put it in a new pot get as large as a dinner plate, sometimes larger. They get smaller when it gets root bound. That's how I know when it is time. Yes, in the winter it looses all leaves and just keeps the seed pods and flower... read more


On Apr 21, 2006, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I grew this plant from seed from an on-line seed supplier. The first attempt, nothing came from the seed and I wrote the company. They sent more seed at the proper planting time and I got germination and growth from four seeds. All four plants have survived to maturity and are still growing.

I am in Zone 8b/9a with some winter freezes down to about 28 F on a few nights. I have my Jatropha podagricas outdoors planted in my garden. I am able to keep them alive during the cold months by a hefty covering of hay as winter mulch. They have returned again this Spring and are currently flowering (April 2006). The flowers tend to appear before the leaves on my plants in my Zone.

As commented above, the one plant that I have in partial shade seems to actually do... read more


On Feb 15, 2006, Linda_Oregonian from Portland, OR wrote:

I was looking on the web because it's blooming now and I thought that might be odd. But after reading about it on this site I guess it's a happy Valentine to me.


On Sep 29, 2005, psgoodguy from Palm Springs, CA wrote:

i planted from seed 2 years ago and have had wonderful results with this plant and have my first bloom this year. summer temps can reach in to the 120's here and winter nights dip into the 30's and it seems very adaptable. in the summer i protect it from the most intense afternoon sun and place it where it gets strong but dappled light. it gets a nice south facing spot to live out the winter. it's very good at telling me when it needs water, which is often in the summer and much less so in winter months.

last winter all the leaves dropped off but i could see a small nub of green at the tip of the trunk so i just waited to see if it would return. sure enough it came back and has been a very fun addition to my desert garden. i've been self polinating the bloom hoping to ... read more


On Jun 20, 2005, Liila from Lantana, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Yep! This one's quick to show unhappiness and disfavor with growing conditions, all right! I kept mine in full sun over the winter and it struggled and struggled to produce leaves. It grew a few tiny ones, which would shrivel up and fall off, usually. I finally realized that it was getting fried, so I moved it to partly shady all day and 2 months later it's blooming and the leaves are a profusion the size of dinner plates. When placed in the proper conditions, it grows leaves and flowers prolifically. I love it! Do not leave this plant in "full sun" here in South Florida, especially in the summertime!

But, when it opened its first bloom, I brought the plant inside to the shady back porch where we could admire it for a while before moving it back to its "home" outside. Well... read more


On Jun 19, 2005, lorraineintampa from Tampa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I live in Tampa Florida 9B and bought this plant in April, 2005. I kept it in a pot where it was doing great but decided to plant it in the ground in my butterfly garden because so many butterfiles were attracted to it. Within a couple of weeks it just melted. I've never experienced anything like this. The top of the stem that had the leaves with flowers and seed pods were limp and bent over. When I touched the stem it felt very soft and mushy like old limp celery. The only thing I can think of is that it received too much water because it was watered everyday to help it get established in the ground during our dry month of May. I figured once the summer rains came I wouldn't have to water it anymore until December. I left the stump in the ground until last week hoping that new le... read more


On Jan 6, 2005, jon123 from Preston, Lancashire,
United Kingdom wrote:

ORIGINAL: Jan 6th 2005

I'm based in the UK, near Manchester.

Bought this from a site on the net (www.bakker.co.uk) in November 2004. The site no longer appears to sell them.

It was delivered "dormant" - not a leaf in sight, just a 6 inch high stump with two short branches. It's on my office window sill - good light, almost constant temp 23C, I'm keeping the soil just moist with infrequent watering.

Was worried that nothing has happened, but having read here about the winter dormancy I'm prepared to wait. Thanks for the tips! Will post back as and when it does anything :o)

UPDATE: 20 May 2005

It's alive! For the last two weeks, the two tiny buds which had lain dormant for so many months have started - ... read more


On Nov 4, 2004, kmcx from Humble, TX wrote:

Awesome plant - and easy to care for. Mine is doing great outside in Houston, TX. I got my 1st seeds this week, I am going to attempt to capture and grow. Thanks for the tips.


On Oct 29, 2004, damlyn from Tweed Heads South,
Australia wrote:

I live in Australia on the east coast. I bought this plant at a flea market with only one leaf on it and was told it was a Mexican bottle tree so I had a lot of trouble finding it on the internet til I found this site. (Thank you) It lost that one leaf, (winter here) but since spring began has two new leaves already. I do not water very often but it doesn't seem to mind. It sits on the table out on my back patio and is a talking point for any visitors as they have never seen one before and neither had I.
It is not in full sun all day but does get afternoon sun for a few hours.


On Jul 11, 2004, seedjar from Portland, OR wrote:

This has to be one of my favorite plants. I've been collecting euphorbiaceae ever since I got this as a birthday gift and this one still takes the cake. It has tolerated all sorts of neglect - I've gone weeks without watering it and months without fertilizing, and it never seems phased.
Mine came from a dealer in Portland, OR a little over a year ago; I kept it below a northern-facing, shady window through the summer with only a two-foot cheapo grow light on a 12 hour cycle to supplement. Slow growth but no problems - it flowered and went to seed with minimum help (a little Q-tip pollenation) on my part. Since then I've moved to Olympia, WA and had it in an even darker dorm room, away from the window (it did fine but certainly wasn't grateful) for the fall. I moved again at the begi... read more


On Jul 1, 2004, hbervoet from Antwerpen,
Belgium wrote:

Main risks and target organs
Dehydration and cardiovascular collapse as a result of
haemorrhagic gastro-enteritis. Central nervous system

Summary of clinical effects
Symptoms are largely those associated with gastro-intestinal
irritation. There is acute abdominal pain and a burning
sensation in the throat about half an hour after ingestion
of the seeds, followed by nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The vomitus and faeces may contain blood. In severe intoxications dehydration and haemorrhagic gastroenteritis can occur. There may be CNS and cardiovascular depression and collapse. Children are more susceptible.

Diagnosis by case history and presenting symptoms. A definite di... read more


On Jun 21, 2004, srenee2004 from Palm Coast, FL wrote:

I love this little plant. It's very exotic appearing and tough. Despite the best intentions, it can take all my bad doctoring. I bought it from a vendor at the Leu Garden Plant Show in Orlando last year for $10. He said it was called a 'Buddha Belly Plant' because keeping the foilage pruned would enlarge the trunk, much like a pony tail palm. He also said it would grow to 10 feet if I planted it in the yard and didn't trim it. The Plants Database says different, however. Last summer spider mites plagued my patio and the Belly was bitten badly. Insecticides did more harm than good so I whacked off all the foilage. They grew back in greater abundance. In September another attack, another whack but who cares, right? The Belly will just get bigger. Then November came-the leaves stopped growing... read more


On May 20, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Mine has done great in So Cal in a pot for years- needs bright light, heat and not too much water (though watering it frequently in hot summer doesn't seem to hurt it any- just grows faster). In winter, keep on patio under protection (or inside if temps below 32)- it alwasy loses it's leaves then and just looks like a weird naked greenish bottle. Probably if I had a bright, sunny place to take it indoors that would be better, but it seems to tolerate its periods of deciduousness OK. I rarely fertilize it, except with Miracle grow a few times a year. Well draining soil is a must (I had one outdoors in less than well draining soil planted in ground and struggled.. until it got hit by 28F then it just melted).


On May 20, 2004, Heroldb from Portland, OR wrote:

I just bought a buddha belly plant for a friend's 50th birthday and would like to tell her how to care for it. I took a picture of her and the plant and wll ask her if I can display it on this site. It was love at first site. If anyone knows how to care for this plant in Portland, OR, please respond.



On Feb 24, 2004, TimF from Rapid City, SD wrote:

very unique plant that always draws attention from visitors. I have propagated this plant from seed. I pick the pod before it dries or else the seed will shoot out many feet from the plant when the pod opens. I have been prunning it judiciously to keep the stems from getting so tall and leggy. Keep it very dry in the winter and don't be alarmed when all the mature leaves drop off in the winter months. No insect or disease problems have been evident in over ten years experience with this plant.


On Feb 23, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I grow this in a large pot in Polk County, Florida in zone 9a. I did bring it in when the temperature went down to 35 one night. Left it out at 38 and it wasn't bothered.


On Feb 22, 2004, mico58 from Orlando, FL wrote:

I have cultivated these plants for 15 years. They make both unique and colorful additions to any landscaping. I cover it in the winter, only during reports of anticipated frost. My only concern is reading that the plant is poisonous if ingested ... does not indicate to what level the plant leaves or seeds are toxic. Friends have expressed concern over pets (particularly cats) that may choose to 'nibble' on the leaves. (If anyone can provide info as to the toxicity of this plant it would be appreciated)

From my experience, it appears they grow extremely well OUTDOORS rather than indoors. My plant seems to bloom all year long, although during the winter months, it will appear almost bear shedding its leaves where only stems, flowers, and seeds are visible.


On Aug 22, 2003, EuSou from Marina, CA wrote:

One of the weirdest looking plants i've ever bought. Interestingly the trunk has bark similar to Pachira aquatica. Paper thin and peeling. This plant looks very alien.

This is a very, very attractive plant. The leaves are large, lobed, peltate and somewhat succulent. The flowers grow on long stems and are a brilliant red color, and stand out from the foliage, despite being relatively small. The trunk forms a nice ball shaped caudex, and has strange thorny looking knobs (harmless).

I haven't had this one long enough to give a positive or negative comment on how it does indoors. But if you do find one, be sure to pick one up, they aren't commonly seen in cultivation.


On Apr 26, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

It has an atractive folliage, exoctic stem, and red flowers: female flowers come first, surrounded by male ones. The abundant nectar may atract ants and bees.