Detailed Product Description
The Indian Administration is now taking up cultivation of Jatropha curcas in many sites of the country, especially due to use of Jatropha curcas oil for the fuel manufacture.
Botanical Features : It is a small tree or shrub with smooth gray bark, which exudes a whitish colored, watery, latex when cut. Normally, it grows between three and five meters in height, but can attain a height of up to eight or ten meters under favourable conditions.
Leaves : It has large green to pale-green leaves, alternate to sub-opposite, three-to five-lobed with a spiral phyllotaxis.
Flowers : The petiole length ranges between 6-23 mm. The inflorescence is formed in the leaf axil. Flowers are formed terminally, individually, with female flowers usually slightly larger and occurs in the hot seasons. In conditions where continuous growth occurs, an unbalance of pistillate or staminate flower production results in a higher number of female flowers.
Fruits : Fruits are produced in winter when the shrub is leafless, or it may produce several crops during the year, if soil moisture is good and temperatures are sufficiently high. Each inflorescence yields a bunch of approximately 10 or more ovoid fruits. A three, bi-valved cocci is formed after the seeds mature and the fleshy exocarp dries.
Seeds : The seeds become mature when the capsule changes from green to yellow, after two to four months from fertilization. The blackish, thin shelled seeds are oblong and resemble small castor seeds.
Ecological Requirements : Jatropha curcas grows almost anywhere, even on gravelly, sandy and saline soils. It can thrive on the poorest stony soil. It can grow even in the crevices of rocks. The leaves shed during the winter months form mulch around the base of the plant. The organic matter from shed leaves enhance earth-worm activity in the soil around the root-zone of the plants, which improves the fertility of the soil. Climatically, Jatropha curcas is found in the tropics and subtropics and likes heat, although it does well even in lower temperatures and can withstand a light frost. Its water requirement is extremely low and it can stand long periods of drought by shedding most of its leaves to reduce transpiration loss. Jatropha curcas is also suitable for preventing soil erosion and shifting of sand dunes. Analysis of the Jatropha curcas seed shows the following chemical composition:
· Moisture 6.20 %
· Protein 18.00 %
· Fat 38.00 %
· Carbohydrates 17.00 %
· Fiber 15.50 %
· Ash 5.30 %
The oil content is 25 32% in the seeds and 50 60% in the kernel. The oil contains 21% saturated fatty acids and 79% unsaturated fatty acids. There are some chemical elements in the seed which are poisonous and render the oil not appropriate for human consumption.