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Bellyache Bush

Jatropha gossypiifolia


The Bellyache Bush is a declared pest in Western Australia. It is a relatively small plant with the: "Stems: [The bark was different from the bottom upwards (see pics 4 and 5).] Hairy, non-woody. Leaves: [The leaves are green and shaped with five "fingers" (see pic 3).] Initially purplish but green when mature, sticky, 5.5–14 centimetres long, 7.5–12.5 centimetres wide, rounded in outline, leaf stalks 4.5–11.5 ccentimetres long. Leaf margins and leaf stalks with gland-tipped hairs; leaves alternate, margins deeply three to five lobed; Flowers: [Small purple flower with bright yellow centres (see pic 1) and tiny purple/black buds (see pic 2).] Flower head branched. Flowers about one centimetre across. Petals purple with yellow base. Flowers most of year but chiefly late summer and autumn. Fruit: An oblong lobed capsule to 1.2 centimetres long, capsule, initially green, ripens dark brown. Mostly three or four seeded. Seeds: Brown seeds to 0.8 ccentimetres long, slightly mottled. Roots: Fleshy and tuberous." (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development: )


Growing in the water with others growing on the slate like rocky/scree slope at Lake Argyle, East Kimberley. Lake Argyle "[and Lake] Kununurra Ramsar Site comprises an extensive system of artificial freshwater reservoirs, with their associated permanent wetlands, formed by damming the Ord River in the eastern part of the Kimberley Region of northern Western Australia. The reservoirs include Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra. There are numerous endemic plants and a rich fauna. The 1,500 km2 (580 sq mi) site was designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on 7 June 1990, making it Ramsar Site 478." (Wiki - )


These pics were taken while kayaking on Lake Argyle towards the end of the wet season. Thank you Irena Hrovat for the identification!!! Bellyache Bush is a declared pest in both Western Australia and Queensland. "Bellyache bush is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic, environmental and social impacts. Bellyache bush forms dense thickets, particularly in riparian areas, such as river banks. It invades beds and banks of ephemeral watercourses, floodplains, open woodland and grassland. Productive river frontages are often most at risk of invasion. It also takes over productive grazing land, reduces biodiversity and restricts access for activities such as mustering and recreation." ( ) Here is a little bit of information about medicinal use but also check out this link for some great reading about other medicinal uses of this little plant (a pest in Australia but medicine elsewhere...): "The sap has a widespread reputation for healing wounds, as a haemostatic and for curing skin problems; it is applied externally to treat infected wounds, ulcers, cuts, abrasions, ringworm, eczema, dermatomycosis, scabies and venereal diseases. The sap has a styptic effect and is used against pains and bee and wasp stings." ( )

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

This is the perfect group for your spotting, Liana. Launched this morning - This bush is the epitome of invasive!

armadeus.4 2 years ago

Ah, ok. I will remove it from the "Australian Native Flowers and Fruits" mission. Thanks Neil!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

I've never heard of this plant before. Awesome notes and reference links, Liana. It sounds like a absolute mongrel of a plant in all the wrong areas. It has been naturalised in northern Australia, but isn't a native species.

You’re welcome :)

maplemoth662 3 years ago

Photo No. 5: is a beautiful landscape photo....

armadeus.4 3 years ago

Thank you Irena for the identification. I missed your id completely! But I have now been able to add a lot more information which is wholly satisfying :D Liana

armadeus.4 4 years ago

Cheers thaptor :) I will keep digging and see if I can find an id...

thaptor 4 years ago

I'm fairly sure it belongs in Malvaceae

Spotted by

Western Australia, Australia

Spotted on Mar 10, 2017
Submitted on Mar 14, 2017

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