Croton

CrotonCroton — Croton is an extensive plant genus of the family Euphorbiaceae established by Carolus Linnaeus in 1737. The common names for this genus are rushfoil and croton, but this latter also refers to Codiaeum variegatum. The genus name comes from Greek Kroton, which means ticks, because of the seeds’ resemblance to ticks.

The best known member of this genus is probably Croton tiglium, commonly called croton, a tree or shrub native to Southeast Asia. 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.

Croton oil has found recent usage as the active ingredient in facial-rejuvenating chemical peels when used in a phenol-based solution, thanks to its caustic exfoliating effect on the dermal layer of the skin.

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

Cascarilla (Croton eleuteria) is found exclusively in the Bahama Islands. It is a small tree, rarely reaching 20 feet in height, with scanty, alternate, ovate-lanceolate leaves, averaging 2 inches long, closely scaled below, giving a metallic silver-bronze appearance, with scattered white scales above. The flowers are small, with white petals, and very fragrant, appearing in March and April. The scented bark is fissured and pale yellowish brown. Its pungent-smelling bark is used as a flavoring, principally for liquers such as Campari.

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