The Plant

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Jatropha Tree

Jatropha Curcas is a succulent shrub or small tree, originally from Latin America, now found throughout the tropics, usually below 1500 metres a.s.l. It is adapted to long periods of drought and can survive up to 50 years in soils low in nutrients. Currently only 5% of flowers produce seeds. The ‘end of branch’ seeds contain between 27-40% vegetable oil, which can be burnt raw or turned into biodiesel through a transesterification process which produces glycerin as a side product. The detoxified seed cake has the potential to be used as animal feed, plant fertiliser and can also be made into secondary fuel briquettes. Jatropha is fast growing and can produce seeds after approximately 0.6– 3 years, depending on genotype and conditions. Other potential oil bearing plants are the indigenous annual Castor Ricinus, the slower growing Croton Megalocarpus tree adapted to above 1500 metres and the exotic high yielding ‘Candle nut’ tree.


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