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Limber Bush
Sangre de Christo

Jatropha cardiophylla

Jatropha cardiophylla photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed in Vekol Valley, Sonoran Desert National Monument, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Aug 10, 2008.

SHRUB: A woody shrub rarely over 1½ meter tall with longish, arching flexible branches. When cut or injured the twigs exude irritating sap that dries blood-red.

LEAVES: Shiny, heart-shaped leaves with crenulate margins. Leaf petioles are red and twigs show the same attractive shade. This plant is drought and cold deciduous and so is leafless through the winter and into the summer until the summer rains arrive.

RANGE: This plant is found in the southeastern quadrants of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona (Tucson area) and more commonly in Sonora, Mexico. Its biology is dependent on the summer rains which are less predictable towards the north and west. Very rare north of Gila Bend / Casa Grande, Arizona.

FRUIT: Dry three-seeded capsule.

FLOWERS: Small yellow or cream colored flowers.

UNARMED. No thorns or spines, but sap can be irritating to some people.

Euphorbiaceae -- Spurge Family

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More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 14 August 2008,
Updated 10 March 2012