Silver Croton, Beach Botany

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The Silver Croton, Croton argyranthemus, is a perennial herb that can reach a height of two feet. Two to four stems are erect and brownish. Leaves are alternate on the stems. Leaf shape is oblong to lanceolate one to six inches long and one inch wide. Leaves are a dark green and glabrous (no hairs). Margins entire. Leaves have a milky sap as a toxin to hold off herbivores.

This species is a member of the Euphorbiaceae (Spurge) family. There is a thing about this family. A number of the family species have imperfect flowers as is the case of our wild flower. Argyranthemus is monoecious with imperfect male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flower has five silver petals about 5mm each with ten lengthy stamens. The female is a single ovary setting on a tiny calyx with 5-7 sepals.

Three styles and stigmas project out of the ovary. Female has no petals. Both flowers originate on the tips of the stems and nowhere else on the plant. The inflorescence is terminal. Fruit is a capsule.

This species was found on the top of a 100 foot high sand dune in the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County. Distribution is in the central and panhandle counties. Habitats are sand hills and scrubs.

 

Photo by James Rodwell