Croton texensis

 

Botanical Name : Croton texensis
Family : Euphorbiaceae – Spurge family
Genus : Croton L. – croton
Species: Croton texensis (Klotzsch) Müll. Arg. – Texas croton
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom : Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Euphorbiales

Common Names:Skunkweed, doveweed.

Habitat : Native to Texsus. Texas croton grows on calcareous soils, sandy loam soils and loose sands. It can occur in great abundance and is generally associated with soil disturbance, lack of soil cover or overgrazing.

Texas croton grows on calcareous soils, sandy loam soils and loose sands. It can occur in great abundance and is generally associated with soil disturbance, lack of soil cover or overgrazing.

Description;
Croton texensis (Euphorbiaceae) is an easily overlooked gray-green annual.Although an unassuming little plant, the interesting life history of the plant lends itself to experimentation that may help elucidate the evolution of plant mating systems. Croton is foremost a dioecious annual, with distinct male and female plants. However, around 1 in every 200 plants develops as a hermaphrodite, with both male and female reproductive structures. With both mating systems present in the same population, croton can be studied to illustrate the costs and benefits leading to the maintenance of plant mating systems…..,,,……

In the field, male and female (or hermaphroditic) plants can be fairly easily distinguished based on morphology alone. This allows straightforward censusing of the population, allowing us to track the fluctuation of the sex ratio over time.

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Texas croton has an aromatic smell when the leaves are crushed. It varies from 1 foot to 4 feet tall, depending on moisture conditions.

 

The leaves are grayish to yellowish green and may be lighter on top and darker beneath. They areusually entire or without lobes or teeth and are located alternately along the stems. Each leaf is attached to the stem by a small stalk called a petiole.

The flowers are arranged in spikes at the ends of the stems. The fruit of Texas croton is a capsule divided into three segments supporting three individual seeds.

Texas croton produces a seed crop that is very valuable to dove, quail and other seed-eating birds but has low value for livestock grazing.

Medicinal Uses:
Doveweed contains croton oil, a cathartic, and was used as such at Isleta, Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni. Preparations of the plant have been used for rheumatism, paralysis, earache (seeds placed in ear), and headache (inhalation of smoke from burning plant).  The powdered leaves are mixed with honey, beeswax, or Vaseline and applied to swollen joints.  The leaves, steeped in vinegar or wine, are applied to the temples for headaches.  The whole plant is placed under mattresses to repel bedbugs and is burned like incense as a fumigant.  The herb is still used in small doses as a laxative but it contains potentially cancer-causing irritants and internal use is not recommended.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://essmextension.tamu.edu/plants/brushandweeds/detail.aspx?plantID=65
http://www.unl.edu/dpilson/croton.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CRTE4&photoID=crte4_2h.jpg
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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