Codiaeum variegatum


Croton is a perennial, evergreen shrub known for its variety of leaf shapes and colors including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, white, and pink. It’s native to Malaysia and India but is a popular houseplant in the United States because of its bold colors and resilience.  Crotons can also be planted outside but are sensitive to cold temperatures and will drop their leaves when it hits below 50ºF.  They prefer moist, sunny conditions with well-drained soils and frequent precipitation.   Crotons can grow as large as 20 feet but dwarf varieties are also available.  Leaves are usually somewhere between 4 and 6 inches long and have a leathery texture.

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Croton flowers are small, star-shaped, and yellow in color that hang down in racemes.  Surprisingly, ants are common fertilizers of this species which explains the organization of flowers on the plant.  Once fertilized, the flowers form brown, sometimes speckled seeds with a hard outer covering similar to a hazelnut.  These seeds can then be dispersed via the animals that eat them.  However, crotons are more easily reproduced through propogations which is what most people use when planting.


The sap of the croton is known to be slightly poisonous, causing irritation upon contact for most people.  Despite this precaution, the leaves can be used to treat a fever, young twigs can be used to stimulate appetite, and the bark can be used to relieve stomachaches, and constipation.


Works Cited


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