Warning

For all ingestions seek urgent medical assistance.

Description

An ornamental shrub to 2m high.

The flowers are very small and bright red, grouped in clusters at the end of long stout branches. Flowers in mid-summer.

The leaves are 10 to 20cm wide and deeply divided into 9 to 11 narrow segments or lobes. These lobes taper into long points and can have a smooth or toothed margin. The leaves are on long stalks.

Toxicity

  • Potentially toxic

  • Irritant to skin or eyes

Symptoms

The fruits, which have a sweet and pleasant taste, are poisonous. If eaten, symptoms can include vomiting and diarrhoea, cramps, numbness and paralysis in the legs and arms. As well as these symptoms, there may be effects similar to those caused by the drug atropine – diminished sweating, dry skin and mouth, slight dilation of the pupils, slight increase in heartbeat and flushed face. If the leaves or sap are ingested, they will also produce similar symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea, although not as severe.

Images

Photo by Mary Louden
Photo by Mary Louden
Photo by Mary Louden

Details

Common name: Coral plant

Botanical nameJatropha multifida

Other common names: Physic nut

Family: Euphorbiaceae

General description: An ornamental shrub to 2m high.

Flowers: The flowers are very small and bright red, grouped in clusters at the end of long stout branches. Flowers in mid-summer.

Leaves: The leaves are 10 to 20cm wide and deeply divided into 9 to 11 narrow segments or lobes. These lobes taper into long points and can have a smooth or toothed margin. The leaves are on long stalks.

Fruit/Berries: The fruit are yellow, 3-angled, about 2.5cm long and usually contain three seeds.

Other: The copious sap is either milky or clear. Contact with the sap can cause dermatitis.

Last updated: July 2023