Jatropha gossypifolia is an evergreen, flowering, large perennial shrub or small tree with a neat, broad, rounded, spreading canopy. Grows 2.5-3m tall with a 2m spread and a trunk diameter of 10-15cm. Fast-growing rate of 60cm p/a. The lifespan of 3 to 5 years. It grows to 2.5–4 m (8.2–13.1 ft) high.
The three-lobed leaves are purple and sticky when young and become bright green with age. The small red flowers with yellow centres appear in clusters. These are followed by cherry-sized seed pods that are poisonous. Powdery mildew fungal disease was reported.