The bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) is a succulent-stemmed, shrub usually 0.6-1.5 metres high (occasionally up 4 m), with open sparse canopy that develops from a short, single-stemmed plant with 3 or 4 young leaves sprouting from the top. Young leaves are purple and sticky. Older leaves are deep green with edges covered in coarse, dark brown hairs. The small marron-red flowers with yellow centres appear in clusters. These are followed by cherry-sized seed pods that are poisonous. The contrast between the purple leaves and green immature fruits is something special. It releases a sticky, yellow, translucent sap when injured.Similar species: Jatropha gossypiifolia can be confused with castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) as both plants are frequently found in the same areas. Castor oil plant is usually taller than bellyache bush. The leaves are larger and clearly different, with more lobes (7 to 9), which are much more pointed and the fruit are much larger than those on the bellyache bush.