Croton (plant)

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For the garden croton, see Codiaeum variegatum. For other uses, see Croton (disambiguation).
"Aubertia" redirects here. For the genus of butterflies, see Aubertia (skipper).
Croton californicus 4.jpg
Croton californicus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Crotoneae
Genus: Croton
  • Aldinia Raf.
  • Angelandra Endl.
  • Anisepta Raf.
  • Anisophyllum Boivin ex Baill.
  • Argyra Noronha ex Baill.
  • Argyrodendron Klotzsch
  • Aroton Neck.
  • Astrogyne Benth.
  • Aubertia Chapel. ex Baill.
  • Banalia Raf.
  • Barhamia Klotzsch in B.Seemann
  • Brachystachys Klotzsch
  • Brunsvia Neck.
  • Calypteriopetalon Hassk.
  • Calyptriopetalum Hassk. ex Müll.Arg.
  • Cascarilla Adans.
  • Centrandra H.Karst.
  • Cieca Adans.
  • Cinogasum Neck.
  • Cleodora Klotzsch
  • Codonocalyx Klotzsch ex Baill.
  • Comatocroton H.Karst.
  • Crotonanthus Klotzsch ex Schltdl.
  • Crotonopsis Michx.
  • Cubacroton Alain
  • Cyclostigma Klotzsch in B.C.Seemann
  • Decarinium Raf.
  • Drepadenium Raf.
  • Elutheria L.
  • Engelmannia Klotzsch
  • Eremocarpus Benth.
  • Eutropia Klotzsch
  • Friesia Spreng.
  • Furcaria Boivin ex Baill.
  • Geiseleria Klotzsch
  • Gynamblosis Torr.
  • Halecus Rumph. ex Raf.
  • Hendecandra Eschsch.
  • Heptallon Raf.
  • Heptanis Raf.
  • Heterochlamys Turcz.
  • Heterocroton S.Moore
  • Julocroton Mart.
  • Klotzschiphytum Baill.
  • Kurkas Raf.
  • Lascadium Raf.
  • Lasiogyne Klotzsch
  • Leontia Rchb.
  • Leptemon Raf.
  • Leucadenia Klotzsch ex Baill.
  • Luntia Neck. ex Raf.
  • Macrocroton Klotzsch in M.R.Schomburgk
  • Medea Klotzsch
  • Merleta Raf.
  • Moacroton Croizat
  • Monguia Chapel. ex Baill.
  • Myriogomphus Didr.
  • Ocalia Klotzsch
  • Oxydectes L. ex Kuntze
  • Palanostigma Mart. ex Klotzsch
  • Penteca Raf.
  • Pilinophytum Klotzsch
  • Piscaria Piper
  • Pleopadium Raf.
  • Podostachys Klotzsch
  • Saipania Hosok.
  • Schousboea Willd.
  • Schradera Willd.
  • Semilta Raf.
  • Tiglium Klotzsch
  • Timandra Klotzsch
  • Tridesmis Lour.
  • Triplandra Raf.
  • Vandera Raf.

Croton is an extensive flowering plant genus in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. The plants of this genus were described and introduced to Europeans by Georg Eberhard Rumphius. The common names for this genus are rushfoil and croton, but the latter also refers to Codiaeum variegatum. The generic name comes from the Greek κροτον (kroton), which means "tick" and refers to the shape of the seeds of certain species.[2]


The best known member of this genus is probably Croton tiglium, commonly called croton, a tree or shrub native to Southeast Asia. It was first mentioned in European literature by Cristóbal Acosta in 1578 as lignum pavanae. Croton oil, used in herbal medicine as a violent purgative, is extracted from its seeds. Nowadays, it is considered unsafe and it is no longer listed in the pharmacopeias of many countries.


Traditional uses[edit]

Croton oil has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat severe constipation, heal lesions, and is used as a purgative.[citation needed] It is a source of the organic compound phorbol and its tumor-promoting esters such as 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate. In the Amazon the red latex from the species Croton lechleri, known as Sangre de Drago (Dragon's blood), is used as a "liquid bandage", as well as for other medicinal purposes, by native peoples.[3]

Food uses[edit]

Cascarilla (C. eluteria) bark is used to flavour the liqueurs Campari and Vermouth.[4]

Biofuel uses[edit]

It has recently been shown in Kenya that Croton nuts, such as those from C. megalocarpus,[5] are a more economical source of biofuel than Jatropha. In Kenya, Jatropha requires as much as 20,000 litres of water to make a litre of biofuel, while Croton trees grow wild and yield about .35 litres of oil per kilo of nuts. Croton trees are planted as a windbreak in Kenya and its use as a source of biofuel may benefit rural economies there. As arable land is under population pressure, people have been cutting down the windbreaks to expand farmland. This new use may save the windbreaks which should help fight desertification.


Croton species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Schinia citrinellus, which feeds exclusively on the plant.


The genus is pantropical, with some species extending into temperate areas.[6] It is one of the largest and most complex genera of angiosperms in Madagascar, where up to 150 Croton species are endemic.[7]

Formerly placed here[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3. 
  3. ^ Raintree Nutrition, Database Entry: Sangre de Grado
  4. ^
  5. ^ Milich, Lenard. "Environmental Comparisons of Croton Megalocarpus vs. Other Tropical Feedstocks" (PDF). Africa Biofuel. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  6. ^ Croton L., USDA PLANTS
  7. ^ Schatz, G. E. (2001). Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew & Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis. 
  8. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Croton". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 

External links[edit]