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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Jatropha a hummingbird attractor

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

Plant Subject: Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima)

First impression: Red, petite, flowers in a cluster that forms the appearance of a large blossom. Shiny dark lobed leaves are an attractive back drop to the lipstick red petals. No fragrance that I can detect, but the pollinators are all around it. A dichotomy of islandy looking flowers paired with structure and form; you can see this unique ever blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Jatropha is part of a family, which includes 150 species from the tropics and subtropics. Many jatropha’s are invasive for our zone, so be careful which variety you plant, or your garden will turn into mono-plant in the blink of your eye.

I really like integerrima jatropha in the garden for its less aggressive nature and never ending blooms. Made for our tropical climate, drought tolerant, and can take full sun. Very versatile, may be planted and pruned as a tree or shrub, the slender trunks can be pruned solo or left multi trunked. I routinely shape and corralled the limbs because the plant is a fast grower. Like many plants of the Euphorbiaceae family, it has a sap that is white, sticky and poisonous. Wear gloves, wash your hands, and never ingest this ooze.

But, it is a super duper pollinator attractor; everyone including hummingbirds love it nectar. Did you know we get hummingbirds here in paradise? Besides migrating through in the spring and fall, some will stop here and take up residence for the fall and winter seasons. Hummers require lots of nectar to sustain their high energy. Red fiery tubular flowers are their menu of the day and will keep them hovering in your yard building their nests. When their food source is available and nearby, they will reward you with never ending escapades of weightlessness and acrobatics.

It is a non-native species, whose hails from the West Indies and tropics. Interesting fact: its sap is being tested for a fuel alternative-varooooom!

Pros:

Ever bloomer

Does well in sandy soil

Likes full sun

Salt tolerance

Is great for tropical look in a garden

Maybe you can discover its secret to replace fuel and become rich

Must have for hummers

Cold tolerant

Easy care

Cons:

Be careful with sap

Non-native

Who doesn’t love hummers????

Conclusion: Blooms of bright vibrant red never ending, in a balmy tropical setting. Ahhh – follow those sighs of wonderment to our garden in paradise.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!