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Member of :

GWAA

The Garden Writers Association


Last Update 07/20/08

Plant of the Month

Jatropha multifida

 Coral Plant

Coral plant is a fast growing evergreen shrub or small tree with a single trunk, a loose, spreading crown and a typical height in cultivation of 6-10'. The distinctive 7 to 15 lobed, finely divided leaves grow up to 12" wide and are reminiscent of Cannabis sativa leaves. They are dark green above and lighter beneath. The flowers are reminiscent of Precious coral or red coral and borne in flat-topped clusters on long stalks held above the foliage. Coral plant blooms on and off all year long, especially during hot weather.

 

Finely divided leaves of Jatropha multifida add interest to the garden. Click image to enlarge.
Finely divided leaves of Jatropha multifida add interest to the garden.
Click image to enlarge.

Inflorescences of Jatropha multifida are reminiscent of Precious coral. Click image to enlarge.
Inflorescences of Jatropha multifida are reminiscent of Precious coral.
Click image to enlarge.

Coral Plant's lacy foliage and exotic flowers make it a great specimen or accent plant. Click image to enlarge.
Coral Plant's lacy foliage and exotic flowers make it a great specimen or accent plant.
Click image to enlarge.

 

Plant Facts:

Common Name:  Coral Plant

Botanical Name:  Jatropha multifida

Family:  Euphorbiaceae

Plant Type:  Evergreen shrub or small tree

Origin: Mexico, Brazil, West Indies

Zones: 10-11 (min. 50 degrees F, leaf drop below 40 degrees F)

Height:  10 - 15', spreading to 12'

Rate of Growth: Fast

Salt Tolerance: Medium

Soil Requirements:  Any with good drainage

Water Requirements: Very drought tolerant, additional watering not needed once established

Nutritional Requirements: Fertilize twice yearly

Light Requirements: Full sun

Form:  Semi-succulent shrub

Leaves:  Dark green, finely divided-lobed, rounded to 12" wide

Flowers: Numerous long stalked small red flowers on coral-like inflorescences

Fruits: Yellow, round, nut-like

Pests or diseases:  Aphids, mealy bugs, scale, rust and fungal leaf spot

Uses:  Specimen, accent, container plant. Flowers attractive to butterflies such as Zebra Longwing, Monarch, Gulf Fritillary and others.

Bad Habits: May be noxious or invasive, seeds sprout readily. Dropped leaves and fruit stain concrete. Milky sap stains clothes. Seeds are poisonous.

Cost:  $$  -- reasonable

Propagation:   Seeds or cuttings

Sources: ORNAMENTAL TROPICAL SHRUBS, AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY A-Z ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDEN PLANTS

 
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