Sp. Pl. 2: 1006. 1753.
Shrubs or trees, to 7 m, monoecious. Stems erect, yellowbrown, sparsely branched, woody-succulent, glabrous; short-shoots absent; latex viscous, cloudy-whitish. Leaves persistent or drought-deciduous, mostly borne on or near branch tips; stipules persistent, (3–) 6–15 (–25) mm, filiform-divided; petiole 11–29 cm, not stipitate-glandular; blade ovate-cordate in outline, 16–30 × 10–22 cm, deeply 9–11-lobed nearly to base, base rounded, margins incised, apex acuminate, membranous, surfaces glabrous; venation palmate. Inflorescences bisexual, terminal and subterminal, cymes; peduncle 12–30 cm; bracts 2–4.5 mm, margins entire, glabrous. Pedicels 3.5–6 mm. Staminate flowers: sepals connate to 1/2 length, ovate, 1.5–3 × 1–1.2 mm, margins entire, apex round, surfaces glabrous; corolla orange-red, campanulate, petals distinct, 5–7 × 2.5–3 mm, surfaces glabrous; stamens 8 in 1 whorl; filaments distinct, 2.2–2.5 mm. Pistillate flowers resembling staminate, but sepals 2–3.5 × 1.1–1.3 mm; petals 6–8.2 × 2–3.2 mm; carpels (1–) 3; styles distinct, 1–1.2 mm. Capsules ellipsoidal, winged, 3–3.4 × 2.7–2.9 cm, tardily dehiscent. Seeds yellow to light-brown, mottled with dark-brown spots or stripes, spheric, 14–18 mm; caruncle rudimentary. 2n = 22 (Puerto Rico).
Phenology: Flowering and fruiting year-round.
Habitat: Disturbed sites.
Elevation: 0–50 m.
Introduced; Fla., West Indies, also in Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, Australia
The geographical origin of Jatropha multifida cannot be determined with certainty; it is probably native to the West Indies. The species is widely cultivated throughout the tropics as an ornamental and has escaped and naturalized in many areas, including central and southern Florida.