Jatropha cardiophylla Sangre de Drago
DECIDUOUS SHRUB. Most of the time, this plant is a spray of sturdy,
diverging, flexible dark red or maroon twigs with sparse, thick, stubby
branches. Comes to life after summer rains, sprouting smooth, shiny,
bright green heart-shaped leaves and tiny urn-shaped pink flowers.
Leaves drop in September or October. A common shrub of sandy washes
and rocky slopes in the Sonoran Desert, it reaches the eastern edge of
its range in the Empires and the Rincon Mountains a few miles to the north.
In the Empires, it is locally common on a few granite tors and large volcanic
outcrops, and leaves tend to be smaller than average. Empire plants
are usually about 1 m tall or less. J. macrorhiza is also
called Sangre de Drago but looks completely different and is an herb with
large ragged-looking leaves (see photo).
FAMILY: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)