Croton alabamensis

Common Name: alabama croton 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Native Range: Southern United States
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Greenish-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Easily grown in organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade. Thrives in sandy soils. Established plants tolerate some soil dryness.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Croton alabamensis, commonly called Alabama croton, is a rare, semi-evergreen to deciduous, loose-rounded, thicket-forming, multi-stemmed shrub that is only found today in four central Alabama counties plus in three counties in Texas under the name of Croton alabamensis var. texensis with the common name of Texabama croton. A former small population in one county in Tennessee may be extirpated.

This rare plant typically grows to 6-10’ tall and as wide. Alternate, simple, apple-green (green to olive green), semi-evergreen, oblong to ovate leaves (2-4” long) have some silvery scales above but are silvery white below. Older leaves turn orange-red in fall. Leaves are noted for their oval shape, glistening silver scales beneath and stunning pumpkin-orange fall color. Leaves remain on the shrub in mild winter climates with green to orange color. Crushed leaves have a banana-apple fragrance. Greenish-yellow flowers bloom in early spring (March –April) at the twig ends in racemes (to 2” long). Fruit is a drupe.

This shrub is a member of the spurge family as evidenced by the milky sap and poinsettia-like flower clusters.

Croton alabamensis is federally listed as G3 or globally vulnerable and var. texensis is listed on the endangered watch list.

Genus name is the Greek word for the castor oil plant (genus Ricinus) which is in the same family as this plant. Genus name means a tick in reference to the plant seeds resembling ticks.

Specific epithet means the plant is native to Alabama.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Uses

Deserves a special place in the garden as rare U.S. native species.