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Origin and Habitat: Mossurize and Zimbabwe and (maybe) South Africa. Not known elsewhere
Altitude range: 335-1220 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: Mopane woodland on sand or in black soil depressions; basaltic black clay and in sandveld.
- Jatropha campestris S.Moore
Description: Jatropha campestris is a slightly succulent, glaucous, shrubby forb-like perennial herb to 50 cm tall with stems arising from a swollen rootstock (caudex) and densely leafy. The flowers are yellow with red lines.
Derivation of specific name: campestris: of the fields or plains.
Stem and branches: Rather fleshy glabrous. Young stems reddish.
Caudex: The caudex can grow to 22 centimetres in diameter.
Leaves: Sessile or subsessile with a short petioleup to 1.2 cm long, digitately –5(7)-lobed to near the base, to subpinnatipartite, rarely some also simple and ovate or elliptic, cuneate or attenuate at the base, (2)4–21 cm long, (1)2–12 cm broad, membranaceous, glabrous on both surfaces, somewhat glaucous below; segments linear-lanceolate to 12 × 3 cm, obtuse at the apex, entire or rarely with one or two teeth, up to 16 mm broad, lateral nerves of the median lobe often in c. 20 pairs. Stipules 0.5–1 mm long, simple and filiform,
Infloresneces (cymes): 7–10(24) cm long, Terminal, pedunculate, many-flowered, about 4 cm long, glabrous. Peduncle up to 7 cm long. Bracts subulate-lanceolate, up to 7 mm long, entire.
Male flowers: Pedicels c. 1 mm long, later up to 3 mm long. Sepals ovate, rounded at the apex, entire, about 2 mm long and 1.5 mm broad. Petals free almost to the base, entire, about twice the length of the sepals. Stamens 8; the 5 outer 4 mm long and fused for c. one-third of their length, the 3 inner 5 mm long and fused for c. two-fifths of their length, anthers 1.5 mm long, bright yellow.
Female flowers: Sepals similar to and the petals narrower than those of the male. Calyx 3 mm long, calyx lobes 1.5–2 × 1.5 mm, triangular-ovate. Ovary glabrous; styles erect 2 mm long, united at the base, erect, stigmas bifid.
Fruits (capsules): About 10–12(-14) mm long, 8–9(10) mm, 3-lobed to ellipsoid, wrinkled.
Seeds: Compressed oblong-ellipsoid, smooth, blackish and shining, to 9-10 mm long, 4-6 mm broad,with a large 5–6-partite dark-coloured caruncle, blackish at the base shading through brown and buff to whitish.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) J. G. Baker, with additions by C. H. Wright. “Flora of Tropical Africa” Vol 6 Part 1, page 441, 1913
2) A. Radcliffe-Smith “Flora Zambesiaca” FZ, Vol 9 Part 4 1996
3) Bihrmann's Caudiciforms contributors "Jatropha campestris" <http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/subs/jat-cam-sub.asp> Web. 9 Nov. 2014.
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