Jatropha curcas is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, that is native to the American tropics, most likely Mexico and Central America. It is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, becoming naturalized in some areas. The specific epithet, "curcas", was first used by Portuguese doctor Garcia de Orta more than 400 years ago and is of uncertain origin. Common names include Barbados Nut, Purging Nut, Physic Nut, or JCL (abbreviation of Jatropha curcas Linnaeus).
J. curcas is a poisonous, semi-evergreen shrub or small tree, reaching a height of 6 m (20 ft). It is resistant to a high degree of aridity, allowing it to be grown in deserts. The seeds contain 27-40% oil (average: 34.4%) that can be processed to produce a high-quality biodiesel fuel, usable in a standard diesel engine. The seeds are also a source of the highly poisonous toxalbumin curcin.