Croton (plant)

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Croton californicus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Crotoneae
Genus: Croton

See text

Many species
  • 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
  • Megalocarpus Hutch.
  • 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 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 κρότος (krótos), which means "tick" and refers to the shape of the seeds of certain species.[2]


Croton is a diverse and complex taxonomic group of plants ranging from herbs and shrubs to trees.[3] A well-known member of this genus is Croton tiglium, a shrub native to Southeast Asia. It was first mentioned in European literature by Cristóbal Acosta in 1578 as "lignum pavanae". The oil, used in herbal medicine as a violent purgative, is extracted from its seeds. Currently, it is considered unsafe and it is no longer listed in the pharmacopeias of many countries.[4]



Traditional uses[edit]

C. tiglium oil has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat severe constipation or heal lesions, and is used as a purgative.[citation needed] Wang Haogu first observed that croton seeds could also be used to treat diarrhea. 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 C. 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.[5]

Food uses[edit]

Cascarilla (C. eluteria) bark is used to flavour the liquor Campari and Vermouth.[6]

Biofuel uses[edit]

In Kenya, Croton nuts, such as those from C. megalocarpus,[7] were found to be a more economical source of biofuel than Jatropha curcas. Jatropha curcas requires as much as 20,000 litres of water to make a litre of biofuel, while Croton trees grow wild and yield about 35 percent oil. Croton trees are planted as a windbreak in Kenya, and their 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.[citation needed]


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

Codiaeum variegatum was formerly placed in the genus Croton


Croton tiglium

The genus is pantropical, with some species extending into temperate areas.[8] It is one of the largest and most complex genera of angiosperms in Madagascar, where up to 150 Croton species are endemic.[9]

Formerly placed here[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. ^ "Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Croton Research Network". Archived from the original on 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  4. ^ "Croton - thenurserylakeland". Archived from the original on 2020-10-21. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  5. ^ Raintree Nutrition, Database Entry: Sangre de Grado
  6. ^ "The Sweet Birthday of a Beloved Bitter". Saveur Magazine. Bonnier Corporation. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  7. ^ Milich, Lenard. "Environmental Comparisons of Croton Megalocarpus vs. Other Tropical Feedstocks" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2017. Africa Biofuel.
  8. ^ Croton L., USDA PLANTS
  9. ^ Schatz, G. E. (2001). Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew & Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.
  10. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Croton". Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2010. Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture.

External links[edit]