croton krō´tən [key], any of several species of Codiaeum that are widely cultivated as ornamentals and houseplants. The most popular species is C. variegatum, which has many cultivated forms of highly colored variegated leaves. Croton is also used as the common name for all species of the genus Croton, some of which are used as medicinals. These include C. tiglium, the source of croton oil, a purgative, and
sangre de grado,C. lechleri, an important folk medicine in western Amazonia. C. megalocarpus, a tree of E and central Africa that has historically been grown for shade, firewood, and fence posts, is being explored as a source of biofuel; the oil cake remaining after pressing the seeds for oil may be used for animal feed. Both Croton and Codiaeum are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Euphorbiales, family Euphorbiaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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