, , , , , , , ,

Let me guess. Jaagon sone walon?
I do want to tell those sleeping to wake up. But, not today.
Jamun? You love eating those.
Look what you have done now. I wish I could get my hands on some.
Then it has to be justice.
No. Not today.
I am tired of being wrong. Just saying.
Have you given up? It’s Jatropha.

Jatropha? What the heck is that? Never heard of it.

I hadn’t heard of it too. But there it was in my backyard, planted by the original owners of the place, and flourishing.

One day while googling for something quite unrelated, I chanced upon a picture. God bless my soul, I said to myself, much in the manner of Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth, the woolly-headed peer who is a recurring character in Blandings stories by my favorite author P.G.Wodehouse. If this isn’t the same flower growing in my backyard! Of course, I am neither a peer nor woolly-headed. What’s more, no stories have been written about me by P.G.Wodehouse. But you know what I mean. Being a fan, I tend to talk/think a lot like his characters inside my own head (and sometimes on my blog too!).

Jatropha. Quaint name.

With a name it had become easier to find more about the flower. Jatropha is a genus of flowering plants in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. The name apparently originates from two Greek words meaning ‘physician’ and ‘nutrition’, the reason that it is also called physic nut. The family contains one hundred and seventy species of succulent plants, shrubs and trees and the one growing in my garden went by the scientific name Jatropha integerrima.

Commonly called Peregrina or Spicy Jatropha, it is an evergreen shrub or small tree, native to Cuba and Hispaniola. Whoa! Did this mean its ancestors had come to India all the way from Cuba/Hispaniola? How interesting! I wondered how it had all come about, what adventures had they, before they finally hit the Indian coast and took root in Indian soil. And here was a descendant, in my own backyard. All that though, must have been in a very distant past because I now find Jatropha listed in Flowers of India.

By the way, don’t be deceived by its glossy leaves and clusters of pretty star shaped red, pink or vermilion flowers. All parts of this plant are toxic if ingested. The sap causes skin irritation and rashes. Even the smoke from burning the plant is toxic. So caution is the watchword when you ‘connect’ with Jatropha.

Here are some pictures from my garden:

© Shail Mohan 2020