Croton Tree
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Croton Tree
D Native Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Croton Tree • Assamese: Mohunda, Makhunda • Hindi: Chucka • Malayalam: Somaraaji, Koteputol, Pongalam, Thomarayam
Botanical name: Croton persimilis    Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)
Synonyms: Croton elaeocarpifolius, Croton boragatch, Croton roxburghii

Croton Tree is a shrub or small tree, 2-12 m tall, deciduous; all parts except older branchlets and leaves lepidote. Leaves oblong, elliptic to ovate-oblong or obovate, rounded or shortly heart-shaped at base, coarsely toothed-sawtoothed or rounded toothed along margins, pointed to short-tapering or blunt or rounded at tip, 10-45 x 5-16 cm, leathery to firmly papery, hairless, penninerved; lateral nerves 8-22 pairs; leaf-stalks 1-7 cm long. Flowers are borne in 12-55 cm long clusters, sometimes unisexual. Male flowers: flower-stalks 2-5 mm long; sepals ovate, elliptic to triangular, 2-3.5 x 1-2.5 mm; petals spoon-shaped or narrowly oblong, 2-3.5 x 0.5-1.5 mm; stamens 10-15, 3.5-4.5 mm long. Female flowers: flower-stalks 2-5 mm long; sepals ovate to elliptic, 2-3.5 x 1-2.5 mm; petals are spoon-shaped to thread-like, 0.3-1.5 mm long; styles 4 - 6 mm long, free, bifid. Capsules are nearly spherical, usually slightly intruded at tip, 3-lobed, 8-12 mm in diameter. Croton tree is found in sub Himalayan tracts or warmer parts or in rain forests or deciduous forests or scrubs, up to 1300 m altitude, in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, NE India, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is als found in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, SW China, Indo-China and Thailand. Flowering: October-December.
Medicinal uses: The root bark is a remedy for chronic enlargement of liver. Powdered root bark taken orally in chronic hepatitis and applied externally to sprains, bruises and rheumatic swellings. The root, bark and seeds are drastic purgative and poisonous in large doses. Oil from the seeds, which forms a substitute for croton oil (from C. tiglium), often used as insecticide in N.E. India.

Identification credit: Aarti Khale Photographed in Lalbagh, Bangalore.

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