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Tuba-tuba 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago


Tuba-Tuba plant(Jatropha Curcas)- producing oil
By Gina Oh



Description and Rationale


The Tuba-tuba plant (Jatropha curcas), which is called “Tubang Bakod” in Tagalog, is not highly known in the Philippines because it hasn’t been very long since it has been imported to the country. It was mainly used to build a fence in the local area, but it became a very popular plant in the agri-business. It has been known that the nut from the jatropha curcas produces oil. It produces about 1 liter of oil for every kilos of seeds which then helps to make biodiesel, a natural fuel. The planting frequency of the Jatropha curcas has been increasing.

That impact would it have on the environment and on the local ecology? Would the oil substance that comes out of the tree stop the other plants from growing? Or would it give benefits to other plants and help them grow effectively? If Jatropha curcas causes damages, how is it possible for the farmers to be able to survive, when their lives depend on what they farm?

Are there other ways that Jatropha curcas can be used? It has been said that Jatropha curcas was mainly used for fencing. One of the reasons for this is that most of the animals do not like its leaves and do not eat it. However, could there be other ways that Jatropha curcas can be used? What benefits can it bring by planting it? Can it help improve soil? What other things does it provide for humans other than producing oil? Would its leaves give benefit in making food? Or would it be used as a medicine?

The main purpose of this project is to research about Jatropha curcas biologically and ecologically through the research of the history as well as the surveys and interviews of the people who have planted the trees and have seen them grow. These efforts will hopefully give more information and benefits to the local farmers of the Philippines.

It is hoped that the other new facts and the usefulness of Jatropha curcas would bring benefits to the Philippines in producing lots of oil supplies and for many other things. Also it is hoped that Jatropha curcas will be known to people and be planted into many other cities in the Philippines and help the people have a better understanding about the plant.


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Common Names and Synonyms


The genus name Jatropha comes from the Greek word which means jatrós “doctor” and trophé “food”. The word actually means involved with medical treatments. Some of the common names for Jatropha curcas are Barbados nut and Physic nut. Other synonyms include Tubang bakod (Philippines); Sangregaod (Mexico); and Curcas indica (Unites States).




Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Embryophyta (green land plant)

Class: Spermatopsida (seed plant)

Order: Malpighiales (flowering plant)

Family: Euphorbiaceae (spurge family)

Genus: Jatropha

Species: Jatropha curcas (physic nut)


Euphorbiaceae is considered to be one of the largest families of plant. There are about 300 genera and 7500 species in this family. They are usually herbs but are sometimes shrubs or trees in the tropical areas.


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Morphology and Physical Description


Jatropha is a small tree that grows up to five meters; however, it can reach up to eight to ten meters when they are seeded under suitable conditions. The trees grow straight up without any curve. Its bark is thin and has greenish color. The leaves are large and grow up to 15cm. They are normally pale green. The leaves are attached with 10cm long petioles. The plant has a large number of small branches.

Flowers bloom at the end of the branches with two different colors: yellow and green. They are usually small in size; however, they are often not observable because they are covered by their leaves. Their pollination is done by insects. After pollination, fruit is produced from the branch. The seed in the fruit is black and grows into 18mm long and 10mm wide.

Jatropha curcas plant can live more than 50 years.


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Getting Food


Just like other plants, Jatropha curcas also get their food from the photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process in which plant get energy from the sunlight in order to produce sugar. In order for them to survive, plants need light energy, carbon dioxide, and water. Photosynthesis occurs in the area of chloroplasts. Chloroplast is an organelle that takes responsible for the photosynthesis. It also makes chlorophyll. The function of chlorophyll is to absorb energy from the sunlight which also helps them produce carbohydrate and water.

Leaves are the only place where photosynthesis works. When the food is made from it, they transfer it to the rest of the plant parts and allow them to survive.




Jatropha curcas can be multiplied into millions of plants and can be reproduced from its seeds. The seed can be reproduced by bees. Because they usually look for the sweet things, they land on the pollen in side the anther of the flowers. Once bees lay on it, they carry male pollens from a flower to the female stigma of the other flower. Then the pollen is transferred into a long tube called pollen tubes. The pollen travels through the pollen tubes until it reaches to the ovary where the pollen tubes meet. Then the egg is formed when a male gamete meet the pollen.

This pollination and fertilization repeat again and again in order to reproduce the seeds. Jatropha plant can also be reproduced by cutting the tree itself. However, they are best replanted in the pasture during the monsoon season.


Environmental Factors


Jatropha curcas adjusts easily to environment. It can survive and live in a wide range of weather conditions as well as soils that are rough and stony. However, it grows best under dry and warm conditions than the cool conditions. Even though it holds relatively low amounts of water, it can survive long periods of time by using the cuticle that covers the plant surfaces of the plant in order to prevent the water loss. The loss of water can be also prevented from the organic substances around the plant.

Because it adjusts to environment easily, it is the first choice of ecologists for the in the wilderness for ecological disaster.


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Origin and Distribution





It is still unsure where the origin of Jatropha curcas was; however, it is more likely that it started in Mexico and Central America. It has been introduced to Africa and Asia and has been spreading through out the world today as a medicinal plant. Even though it was known world wide, it has usually spread in the tropical countries such as Hawaiian Islands.


Importance to People


Scientists have discovered more than 1600 uses of Jatropha curcas. It is said that they are advantages to people in many other ways.

Jatropha produces oil. It has been used effectively and is proven to be safe. Some countries, especially India, have used it for making soap. Because it provides natural oil, it is helpful in protecting the skin from diseases such as rashes, fungus, ringworms and many other problems.

The roots, stems, leaves, seeds and fruits of Jatropha are being used for making medicine in Western parts of Africa. The seed is used for treating skin diseases, paralysis, purgative, antihelminthic, abortifacient, ascites and gout. The oil from the seed is also used for skin disease, fever and a mouth wash. Africans also chew its seeds for a laxative. The bark is used for removing poison from fish.

Jatropha can be also used as food. Its leaves are eaten as a side dish in Java and Malaysia by cooking it tenderly. It is also used to feed silk worms.

The color from the bark brings a dark blue coloring which is used for dyeing cloth in the Philippines.


Survivability and Endangered Status


The survivability of the Jatropha curcas is at a high rank today because it can be used as many different ways.

The Jatropha curcas, or the tuba-tuba plant, is increasing and is spreading throughout the world, and does so as a big advantage to people. It has spread from the original region of Central America to the entire world within a short period of time. The tuba-tuba plant is now being considered as an oil producing plant in the Philippines. Before its wood was only used making fence. It is hoped that when Jatropha is known to many other people in the Philippines, they will find even more uses in the future besides producing oil.


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Potential Solutions


Is cropping Jatropha curcas in Manila, Philippines good or bad? Jatropha curcas have not been well known in the Philippines because it has not been long since it has been transported. However, to where it has been known, it has been developed its use, from the tree that was being used when making fence to a plant that produces oil (Bio-diesel) and soap which helps prevent skin disease. Also it has been known that it can be used for making medicine. Jatropha curcas has begun to increase its quality in Philippines. Further research about Jatropha curcas gives an idea of whether planting it in Philippines brings reliability on the oil producing for the poor families having hard time buying fuel for its expensiveness. There seem to be several promising livelihood possibilities that may be able to benefit the poor’s. Below are some possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each.


Possibility 1 planting the tree


Planting trees are one of the loving ways of keeping the environment. The propagation of Jatropha curcas has been increasing in the Philippines. However, it has not been planted in a wide range of areas. There are advantages when planting Jatropha curcas in a wide range of areas as well as disadvantages in leading people into a better life.






1. The Jatropha tree itself helps produce soap. The soap that is produced from the tree would help people prevent from being infected by a skin disease such as rashes, fungus, ringworms and many other things.

2. Its leaves are edible. By slightly cooking its leaves and having it as a meal, it would become a nutritious food to the poor communities.

3. It is able to adapt in almost all the environments because it can be grown in any kind of soil, does not require fertilizer and also does not need much water for it to grow.

4. Because Jatropha grows quickly, requires small amount of water and does not need fertilizer, they do not need much care from people.


1. Making food with the leaves from its tree involves cutting. Cutting the tree might bring damages to the environment. Also, if cutting the tree is being continued, they would have to plant more and more trees which require much more effort to the people.

2. Not all community would be able to receive advantages from the plant. Some community would not be able to plant much tree because not all communities are large in area.


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Possibility 2 producing oil (Bio-diesel)


There are many information found in variety of places that has been proven that Jatropha curcas produces oil (bio-diesel). Specifically, an article found in September 8, 2007 from the internet source inquirer.net with the title of “Jatorpha: What the public should know”, states that bio-diesel is a viable source in the Philippines.


1. Since it requires people’s outstretched hand in producing oil, it can offer jobs to the poor people in the poor communities.

2. Because it produces lots of oil, people can buy oil with much cheaper price. If people plant the tree near their house, they can even get the oil free.

3. Planting Jatorpha curcas can bring country rich in oil.


1. Producing lots of oil not only brings air pollution but it also brings damages to the ozone layer.

2. It might influence other trees around the tree.


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Possibility 3 make the tree known throughout the country


It is important to let the people know about the tree Jatropha curcas because it is for their own benefit. If they know it, they would be able to save money for their food and oil. It would help people know the importance of the environment and trees.



1. The more people know about Jatropha curcas, the more they would get interested in planting the tree so that the propagation would spread throughout Philippines.

2. People would live their lives by seeing the beautiful nature that God had created in order for us to enjoy.


1. Because it would become the well know plant in the country, it would not be such a big deal in taking care of the tree.

2. It will become crowded if many people begin to plant Jatropha.


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Biblical Rationale


It is commanded by God in the Bible that we, His followers, should love the nature and take good care of it in which God had created. One of the right ways of obeying Gods word is loving the nature. In Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Planting trees might be one of the ways in taking good care of the environment (nature) because it helps Christians learn how to love the plant and take god care of it. Also, Revelation 20:11~15 says, “According to what he has done, he should be judged at last.” God’s children should always be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ by keeping the environment beautiful and clean. In order to do this we should plant lots of trees and keep the trees safe.




Inquirer comp. “Jatropha: What the public should do” inquirer.net August 9 2007



James A. Duke “Jatropha Curcas L. purdue.edu January 7 1998



Zipani Tom Sinkala “Use of Jatropha Curcas” biomass-plc.com 2007



“Jatropha curcas- Green fuel for future” jatrophacurcas.net (no info.)



“Tubang Bakod” stuartxchange,org (no info. about updated date)

http://www.stuartxchange.org/Tubang Bakod.html


“Jatropha Curcas” frienvis.nic.in (no. info.)



“Jatropha Curcas L.” intox.org June 1994



“Jatropha curcas- Physic nut” tropilab.com 13 April 2008



“Jatropha curcas L. “dovebiotech.com (no info.)



“Jatropha Curcas” zipcodezoo.com (no info.)

http://www.zipcodezoo.com/Plants/J/Jatropha mcvaughii.asp



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