jatropha, any plant of a widely distributed genus ( Japtropha ) of perennial herbs, shrubs, and trees in the family Euphorbiaceae ( spurge family), native to tropical areas of the Western Hemisphere. Many of the plants in the genus contain poisonous compounds. J. curcas, also known as Barbados nut or physic nut, is a drought-resistant bush that produces seeds with a high oil content. It has been hybridized to increase the oil content of the seeds the extracted oil can be refined into low-carbon biodiesel and jet fuel, but the economic viability of using the plant for fuel is not clear. J. curcas also being explored as a means for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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