Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jatropha podagrica and the Green Grasshopper

I remember forever having Jatropha podagrica (Buddha Belly Plant) in my garden. They are self-seeding and generally flourished without much effort on my part.

The leaves are large and round  with a few shallow indents.  Spines radiate from the centre of the leaf giving it a star shape.

Upright flowers stalks soon follow. Five flowers of the inflorescence are in anthesis while the remaining tiny round globes are probably the male flowers.

The fruit is large compared to the flower. It is in the form of an elongated globule and consist of five segments.


 Pollination is a frequent success story with fruits forming easily. It is  evidenced here by the presence of five well-formed fruits. 

The fruits are a powdery light teal green colour which is quite similar to the colour of the leaves. They stay on the stalk for many weeks before bursting.

The stem of the plant is swollen hence its moniker, 'Buddha Belly'. Its characteristics are similiar to succulents. When any part of the plant is broken off, a light murky sap oozes out.

I was snipping off the half chomped-off leaves of the Pseuderanthemum reticulatum when the mystery of the jagged leaf edges was uncovered.

The uninvited dinner guest was a homogeneously green grasshopper. being caught red-handed, it quickly hopped on to a sturdy leaf stalk of Jatropha podagrica.

Through the filtered sunlight, the limbs appeared like translucent jade. Only the reddish-grey antennae and yellow spikes on its lower leg detract from its homogenous green colour. The claws have a reddish tinge. I thought they look like manicured and pedicured painted nails.

Here its head is seen admist the leaf, flowers and fruits.

It clinged on the stalk with its vice-grip.

Before long it decided to ascend by spreading out its limbs all over for anchorage until it could clutched the edge of a leaf.

It then heaved itself up on to the leaf surface.

 Old Tibetan rosary comprising one hundred and five-beads. The black beads are interspersed with yellow ember, sky-blue turquoise, red coral and silver beads. (From my sister's collection of antique beads and baubles).


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