Croton (plant)

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Croton
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
L.
Species
 
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For the garden croton, see Codiaeum variegatum. For other uses, see Croton (disambiguation).
Croton
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
L.
Species

Croton is an extensive flowering plant genus in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, established by Carl Linnaeus in 1737. 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.[1]

Characteristics[edit]

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.

Uses[edit]

Traditional uses[edit]

Croton oil has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat severe constipation since the seed of the plant can cause diarrhea.[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.[2]

Food uses[edit]

Cascarilla (C. eluteria) bark is used to flavour the liqueurs Campari and Vermouth.[3]

Biofuel uses[edit]

It has recently been shown in Kenya that Croton nuts, such as those from C. megalocarpus,[4] 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.

Ecology[edit]

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

Distribution[edit]

The genus is pantropical, with some species extending into temperate areas.[5]

Synonyms[edit]

This genus is also known under many other names:

Formerly placed here[edit]

  • Acalypha chamaedrifolia (Lam.) Müll.Arg. (as C. chamaedrifolius Lam.)
  • Astraea lobata (L.) Klotzsch (as C. lobatus L.)
  • Caperonia palustris (L.) A.St.-Hil. (as C. palustris L.)
  • Chrozophora plicata (Vahl) A.Juss. ex Spreng. (as C. plicatus Vahl)
  • Claoxylon indicum (Reinw. ex Blume) Hassk. (as C. polot Burm.f.)
  • Codiaeum variegatum (L.) A.Juss. (as C. variegatus L.)
  • Homalanthus nutans (G.Forst.) Guill. (as C. nutans G.Forst.)
  • Macaranga grandifolia (Blanco) Merr. (as C. grandifolius Blanco)
  • Mallotus japonicus (L.f.) Müll.Arg. (as C. japonicus L.f.)
  • Mallotus philippensis (Lam.) Müll.Arg. (as C. philippensis Lam.)
  • Mallotus repandus (Rottler ex Willd.) Müll.Arg. (as C. repandus Rottler ex Willd.)
  • Savia sessiliflora (Sw.) Willd. (as C. sessiliflorus Sw.)
  • Terminalia bentzoe (L.) L.f. (as C. bentzoe L.)
  • Triadica sebifera (L.) Small (as C. sebifer L.)[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3. 
  2. ^ Raintree Nutrition, Database Entry: Sangre de Grado
  3. ^ http://www.yourdictionary.com/cascarilla
  4. ^ Milich, Lenard. "Environmental Comparisons of Croton Megalocarpus vs. Other Tropical Feedstocks". Africa Biofuel. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  5. ^ Croton L., USDA PLANTS
  6. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Croton". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 

External links[edit]