Sunday, June 6, 2010

Silver Croton - Croton argyranthemus

Silver croton (Croton argyranthemus) is native to well drained uplands throughout much of the northern half of Florida. This is a plant of the Deep South and occurs in states immediately adjacent to us, west to Texas and Oklahoma.

Silver croton is not named for its foliage. Its 1-inch linear leaves are decidedly coppery hairy and give this plant its distinctive appearance. This is an evergreen wildflower and it reaches a mature height of 18-24 inches. Blooming can occur almost anytime from spring to fall, with a peak during the spring months. The small white flowers, produced in racemes at the top of each stem, are a silvery white in color - and this is what gives it its common and Latin names. The flowers are pollinated mostly by small bees.

Silver croton is in the euphorbia family. As such, it has milky sap which protects it from herbivory. However, this wildflower is the larval food plant for a wonderful north to north-central Florida butterfly, the goatweed leafwing. This leafwing is not an easy one to be lured into a typical butterfly garden setting and it occurs sporadically throughout its range, but planting this wildflower would be your only way of possibly succeeding in bringing it up close.

Silver croton is not currently offered by any of the nurseries affiliated with AFNN - the Association of Florida Native Nurseries. It is relatively easy to grow from seed, however, and we have given a good deal of consideration to adding it to our inventory at Hawthorn Hill. If you would be interested, please let us know.

This is a relatively adaptable plant, but requires well-drained sandy soils and sunlight to prosper. Individual plants are not robust or very showy so it is best planted in clusters of at least five or more, about one foot apart. Use them in the middle section of the planting area. Silver croton is as interesting for its foliage color as for its white blooms, so make sure it is in an area where it can be seen; not buried beneath the foliage of larger plants.

1 comment:

  1. Found some of this in Ocala Florida, in a longleaf pine/turkey oak sandhill. Lovely, and easily over-looked.

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