Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pineland Croton - Croton linearis

Aspect

Flowers close up

Foliage
Pineland croton (Croton linearis) is a small semi-woody shrub confined in Florida to the most-southern counties along the east coast of the state - from St. Lucie south to Miami-Dade. In this region, it occurs most frequently in pinelands. Pineland croton also occurs in the Bahamas and Greater Antilles.
Mature plants form a somewhat woody stem that can reach six feet tall, though often several feet shorter. The main stem is thin and remains flexible. It becomes a multi-stemmed plant. The leaves are alternate along the stem and decidedly elliptical. Each leaf is one inch long, sometimes as long as two inches. The underside of each leaf is covered by silvery hairs.
Flowering can occur in any month. Like other crotons, the male and female flowers are morphologically different, but on the same plant. The male flowers (the ones mostly pictured above) have longer petals and noticeable sepals below while the female flowers are smaller and without noticeable sepals. These attract small bees for the most part. Pineland croton serves as the host plant for two of South Florida's most unique butterflies - the Florida leafwing and Bartram's hairstreak. As such, it makes a very valuable addition to a butterfly garden within the geographic ranges of these two butterflies.
Pineland croton does not seem to be especially fussy in regards to its growing conditions. Although native to high pH soils. it has done very well in my landscape built on a former acidic pineland soil. It is sporadically offered for sale by native plant nurseries in extreme south Florida, but may be difficult to find without some sleuthing.  Mine came from a friend who propagated a few from plants in his yard. I do not intend to propagate seedlings from this plant in the future at Hawthorn Hill.

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