A Review of Jatropha multifida Linn.


General Information 

Jatropha multifida Linn. (Synonim: Adenoropium multifidum (L.) Pohl and  J. janipha Blanco) belong to the family Euphorbiaceae (Padua et al., 1999), origin uncertain but probably in digenous to Barbados. A very attractive and widely cultivated species throughout the tropics and is commonly known as coral plant or French physic nut (Dehgan, 1982). Shrubs or treelets, 2-3(-6) m tall, stems glabrous. Stipules divided into forked setiform; to 2 cm, petiole 10-25 cm, leaf blade orbicular in outline, 10-30 cm wide, green adaxially, graygreen abaxially, glabrous on both surfaces, margin palmately 9-11 lobed, lobes entire, venation pinnate. Inflorescenes terminal peduncle 13-20 cm, pedicles short, flowers dense. Male flowers: calyx 2-3 mm, lobes 5, rotund, glabrous; sepals 5, spatulate, red, ca. 4 mm; stamens 8; filaments connate at base; anthers elongate. Female flowers: calyx as in male; sepals 6-7 mm, red; ovary glabrous; styles 3, connate in lower 1/2. Capsules ellipsoidal to obovate, ca. 3 cm, glabrous (Shu et al., 2008). J. multifida Linn. is grown as an ornamental plant in north Australia and South east Africa (Nayak and Patel, 2009), likewise in Philippines, Srilanka and Indonesia, expecially in Java and Sulawesi Islands.

Medicinal Properties

All parts of this plant, in particular the seeds, are reported to have strong purgative properties. The foliage smells like insect repellent and have never seen this plant attacked by insects, although personal communication reports occasional attacks by mites (Dehgan, 1982). The fruits are punget, heating and purgative: useful in piles, wounds, enlarged spleen and skin diseases. The seeds are sweetish, oleaginous; purgavive, aphrodisiac, tonic, causes “Kapah”, “Vata”, and “Pitta”, vominting and burning sensation. The seeds are regarded as a powerful purgative in Cambodia (Kirtikar and Basu, 1981). A case was reported from Srilanka that child spontaneously vomited several times and became drowsy after ingesting the seed of the Kapum Kiriya (J. multifida Linn.) plant which was growing near the fence (Guruge et al., 2007).The toxic element is a toxalbumin named jatrophin which causes agglutination and haemolysis of red  cells and is also injurious to other cells (Lucas and De Silva, 2006). The leaves and latex of J. multifida Linn. are used medicinally. The leaves are used in scabies: the latex is applied over wounds and ulcer and the oil is used both internally and externally as abortifacient (Kirtikar and Basu, 1981). The bark and leaves are used as medicine for neurodermatitis, itchy skin and skin eczema (Shu et al., 2008). The stems was employed as chewing sticks used for dental care in Ekiti state, Nigeria (Kayode and Omotoyinbo, 2008).


Chemical investigation has been carried out on J. multifida Linn. and chemical compound mainly terpenoids, alkaloid peptides, phloroglucinols and cyanoglucoside have been isolated. The diterpenoids, multidione (Das et al., 2009a) was isolated from the stems of J. multifida Linn. The compound possesses a phenolic moiety and a long side chain, structurally similar to the B ring of other lathyrane-diterpenoids in seco-form. Multifidone (Das et al., 2009b), a novel cytotoxic lathyrane-type diterpene having six-membered A ring from J. multifida Linn. was determined from detailed analysis of 1D and 2D NMR spectra and X-ray crystallographic analysis. Multifolone and (4E)-jatrogrossidentadione acetate (Das et al., 2008) was isolated from the stems along with five known diterpenoids, a flavone and a coumarino-lignoid. Compound 15-epi-(4E)-jatrogrossidentadione acetate was isolated from the stem (Das et al., 2010). Cyclic peptides have been isolated from the latex were labaditin and biobollein (Kosasi et al., 1989a; Labadie, 1993),  The acylphloroglucinols are multifidol and multifidol glucoside (Kosasi et al., 1989b) were identified as (2-methylbutyryl)phloroglucinol and 1-[(2-methylbutyryl)phloroglucinyll-beta-d-glucopyranoside have been isolated from the latex of J. multifida Linn. The non-cyanogenic cyanoglucoside, 1-cyano-3-β-D-glucopyranosyloxy-(Z)-1-methyl-1-propene named multifidin A (Van den Berg et al., 1995) was isolated from the latex of this plant.

Isolated compounds from J. multifida


Antibacterial – Aiyelaagbe (2001) reported antibacterial activity of hexane, ethyl acetate, chloroform and methanol extracts the roots of J. multifida Linn. against Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aures. Labaditin has shown antibacterial against a Gram-positive bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, but no effect against Gram-negative bacteria (Barbosa et al., 2010).

Immunomodulatory – Labaditin, a cyclic decapeptide and biobollein, a cyclic nonapeptide were isolated from the latex of J. multifida Linn. on the basis of immunomodulatory activity-guided purification and both peptides selectively inhibited the classical pathway of human complement activation (Kosasi et al., 1989a; Labadie, 1993).

Anticancer – Multifidone isolated from the stem was measured on four different cancerous cell lines (Das et al., 2009b).


Aiyelaagbe, O.O. (2001). Antibacterial Activity of Jatropha multifida Roots. Fitoterapia, 72: 544-546.
Barbosa, S.C., Cilli, E.M., Dias, L.G., Stabeli, R.G., Ciancaglini, P. (2010). Labaditin, a Cyclic Peptide with Rich Biotechnological Potential: Preliminary Toxicological Studies and Structural Changes in Water and Lipid Membrane Environment. Amino Acids, Springer.
Das, B., Ravikanth, B., Reddy, K.R., Thirupathi, P., Raju, T.V., Sridhar, B. (2008). Diterpenoids from Jatropha multifida. Phytochemistry, 69:2639-2641.
Das, B., Laxminarayana, K., Krishnaiah, M., Srinivas, Y., Raju, T.V. (2009a). Multidione, a Novel Diterpenoid from Jatropha multifida. Tetrahedron Letters, 50:4885-4887.
Das, B., Reddy, K.R., Ravikanth, B., Raju, T.V., Sridhar, B., Khan, P.U., Rao, J.V. (2009b). Multifidone: a Novel Cytotoxic Lathyrane-Type Diterpene Having an Unusual Six-membered A Ring from Jatropha multifida. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 19(1): 77-79.
Das, B., Kumar, A.S., Kumar, J.N., Raju, T.V. (2010). A New Macrocyclic Diterpenoid from Jatropha multifida. Nat. Prod. Res., 24: 1510-1513.
Dehgan, B. (1982). Novel Jatrophas for Florida Landscapes. Proc. Fla. State. Hort. Soc., 95: 277-280.
Guruge, K., Seneviratne, A.M.R.D., Badureliya, C. (2007). A Case of Jatropha multifida Poisoning. Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 36: 148.
Kayode, J., Omotoyinbo, M.A. (2008). Ethnobotanical Utilization and Conservation of Chewing Sticks Plants Species In Ekiti State, Nigeria. Research Journal of Botany, 3(3): 107-115.
Kirtikar and Basu, (1981). Indian Medicinal Plant, Vol. 4, Page No: 2240-2247.
Kosasi, S., Van Der Sluis, W.G., Boelen, R., ‘t Hart, L.A., Labadie, R.P. (1989a). Labaditin, a Novel Cyclic Decapeptide from the Latex of Jatropha multifida L. (Euphorbiaceae): Isolation and Sequence Determination by Means of Two-Dimentional NMR. FEBS Letters, 256: 91-96.
Kosasi, S., Van Der Sluis, W.G., Labadie, R.P. (1989b). Multifidol and Multifidol Glucoside from the Latex of Jatropha multifida. Phytochemistry, 28: 2439-2441.
Labadie, R.P. (1993). Bioactive Natural Product, ed. S.M. Colegate and R.J. Molyneux, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Ann Arbor, London, Tokyo.
Lucas, G.N., De Silva, T.U.N. (2006). Poisonous Plants of Sri Lanka, 1st ed. Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians.
Nayak, B.S., Patel, K.N. (2009). A Marvel Plant – Jatropha: An Appraisal. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 1(3): 35-39.
Padua, L.S.,  Bunyapraphatsara, N., Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (1999). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No (12)1. Medicinal and poisonous plant 1: Leiden, Backhuys Publishers.
Shu, M.F.S., Bingtao, L., Gilbert, M.G. (2008). Jatropha. Fl. China, 11: 268-269.
Van den Berg, A.J.J., Horsten, S.F.A.J., Bosch, J.J.K., Beukelman, C.J., Kroes, B.H., dan Labadie, R.P., 1995. ‘Multifidin―A Cyanoglucoside in the Latex of Jatropha multifida’. Phytochemistry, 40(2): 597-598.


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