A nod of thanks to Mathew Vis-Dunar, UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist, for both today's write-up and photograph. This image was taken at the Belize Botanic Gardens in the spring of 2008. Mathew writes:
Jatropha is comprised of about 175 species, most found in the tropics and subtropics of the Americas.
Jatropha is derived from the Greek iatros = physician and trophe = nutrition, resulting in the genus' common name, physic nut. The term gout plant, used for this particular species, comes from the plant's distinctive swollen stem.
Native to Central America, Jatropha podagrica has been widely distributed throughout the tropical world, particularly China and India. Not unlike other members of the family Euphorbiaceae, it is toxic, with a single seed being sufficient to cause severe poisoning.
Botany resource link (added by Daniel): Invasipedia, discovered via the Greater Vancouver Invasive Plant Council's GVInvasives listserve. Invasipedia "houses information on invasive plants, animals, and pathogens, and especially how to best manage them. Its foundation is the large amount of species management information developed by the The Nature Conservancy's Global Invasive Species Team."