Croton argyranthemus

From Coastal Plain Plants Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Croton argyranthemus
Croton argyranthemus Gil.jpg
photo by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Croton
Species: C. argyranthemus
Binomial name
Croton argyranthemus
CROT ARGY dist.jpg
Natural range of Croton argyranthemus from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Healing croton; silver croton; sandhill croton

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none[1]

Varieties: none[1]


The root system of Croton argyranthemus includes stem tubers which store non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) important for both resprouting following fire and persisting during long periods of fire exclusion.[2] Diaz-Toribio and Putz (2021) recorded this species to have an NSC concentration of 103.9 mg/g (ranking 51 out of 100 species studied) and water content of 57.7% (ranking 14 out of 100 species studied).[2]




It is extremely vulnerable to disturbance. One reason for this might be that it relies heavily on native species of ants for dispersal.[3] It can be found in longleaf pine communities.[4] It can also be found in sandhill communities.[5] It has been found on the edges of sandy oak-palmetto scrub, clobbered, cutover flatwoods, and pine-turkey oak flatwoods and sand ridges.[6] It has also been found to grow along disturbed areas like the wooded edges of powerline corridors. Growing in either moderate shade to full sun, this species grows in drying sandy loam in the uplands. C. argyranthemus has had variable changes in frequency and density in response to soil disturbance by roller chopping in northwest Florida sandhills. It has shown both regrowth and resistance to regrowth in reestablished native sandhill habitats that were disturbed by roller chopping.[7] The plant showed decreased occurrence in response to soil disturbance by agriculture in southwest Georgia. It has also shown resistance to regrowth in reestablished native savanna that was disturbed by agriculture.[8]

Associated species includes Crotonopsis, Paronychia, Tetragonotheca, Berlandiera, and Onosmodium.[6]

Croton argyranthemus is frequent and abundant in the Peninsula Xeric Sandhills community type and is an indicator species for the North Florida Subxeric Sandhills community type as described in Carr et al. (2010).[9]


It is a summer forb.[3] This species has been observed to flower from March to October with peak inflorescence in May and June; it has been obsereved to fruit from April to September.[6][10]

Seed dispersal

Ants are an agent of seed dispersal.[4] Seeds have elaiosomes, and can be dispersed by ants such as fire ants.[4] The seeds can also be dispersed explosively.[3] Three of the ballistic euphorbs (C. stimulosus, C. argyranthemus and S. sylvatica) produce seeds with elaiosomes and all of the ballistic species are collected by ants, in particular Pogonomyrex badius Latreille (Long and Lakela 1971; N.E. Stamp and J. R. Lucas, personal observation).”[5] This species is thought to be dispersed by ants and/or explosive dehiscence. [11]

Fire ecology

This species is fire tolerant and is included in the flowering plant survery – post burn – in Heuberger’s study.[12]


Pollinated mostly by small bees.[13]

Herbivory and toxicology

C. argyranthemus is an important game food plant: it is consumed by doves, quail, and deer.[14] It is the larval food plant for the goateed leafwing butterfly. It produces a milky sap to help defend from herbivory.[13]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Many species of Croton can be used in medicine, but oil derived from the plant can be highly toxic for canines and cause blistering on skin.[15]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Diaz-Toribio, M.H. and F. E. Putz 2021. Underground carbohydrate stores and storage organs in fire-maintained longleaf pine savannas in Florida, USA. American Journal of Botany 108: 432-442.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kirkman, L. K., K. L. Coffey, et al. (2004). "Ground cover recovery patterns and life-history traits: implications for restoration obstacles and opportunities in a species-rich savanna." Journal of Ecology 92(3): 409-421.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Cumberland, M. S. and L. K. Kirkman (2013). "The effects of the red imported fire ant on seed fate in the longleaf pine ecosystem." Plant Ecology 214: 717-724.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Stamp, N. E. and J. R. Lucas (1990). "Spatial patterns and dispersal distances of explosively dispersing plants in Florida sandhill vegetation." Journal of Ecology 78: 589-600.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, D. Burch, Andre F. Clewell, M. Davis, Patricia Elliot, Robert K. Godfrey, C. Jackson, Walter Kittredge, Gary R. Knight, Robert Kral, Robert L. Lazor, Sidney McDaniel, John Morrill, John B. Nelson, R. A. Norris, Cecil R. Slaughter, John K. Small, S. S. Ward, E. West, Ira L. Wiggins, and Dorothy B. Wiggins. States and Counties: Florida: Alachua, Bay, Clay, Columbia, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Okaloosa, Polk, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Walton, and Washington.
  7. Hebb, E.A. (1971). Site Preparation Decreases Game Food Plants in Florida Sandhills. The Journal of Wildlife Management 35(1):155-162.
  8. Kirkman, L.K., K.L. Coffey, R.J. Mitchell, and E.B. Moser. Ground Cover Recovery Patterns and Life-History Traits: Implications for Restoration Obstacles and Opportunities in a Species-Rich Savanna. (2004). Journal of Ecology 92(3):409-421.
  9. Carr, S.C., K.M. Robertson, and R.K. Peet. 2010. A vegetation classification of fire-dependent pinelands of Florida. Castanea 75:153-189.
  10. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 8 DEC 2016
  11. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  12. Heuberger, K. A. and F. E. Putz (2003). "Fire in the suburbs: ecological impacts of prescribed fire in small remnants of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) sandhill." Restoration Ecology 11: 72-81.
  13. 13.0 13.1 [[1]]Native Florida Wildflowers. Accessed: April 15, 2016
  14. Hebb, E. A. (1971). "Site preparation decreases game food plants in Florida sandhills." Journal of Wildlife Management 35: 155-162.
  15. Mueschner, W.C. 1957. Poisonous Plants of the United States. The Macmillan Company, New York.