Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Croton spp.

Texas Ranch Management would like to point out an important plant most likely growing in your pasture. Now that dove season is in full swing there is a genus of plants that you should be keeping your eye open for and that is croton. If you find a patch of croton you’re bound to find a flock of doves and many other seed eating birds.  There are roughly twenty different species of croton in Texas.  There is even a town in Texas called Croton.  Below is a list of 3 species of croton that are commonly found in Texas.

Woolly Croton (Croton capitatus Michx.)

Ted Bodner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Jeff McMillian @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
       Woolly croton can grow 1 to 3 foot tall. The leaves and stem have star-shaped hairs that give it a soft texture. The leaves are entire and have no lobes. The leaf placement is alternate and has an aromatic smell when crushed.

The seeds of the woolly croton have a great wildlife value. Dove, quail, Rio Grande turkeys, and many other seed-eating birds seek out the seeds after they mature. Most of the time the plant is treated as a weed due to the fact that it has no to little value to livestock.

These plants can normally be located where recent soil disturbance has occurred or where overgrazing is present

Texas Croton (Croton texensis (Klotzch) Muell. Arg).
USDA-NRCS Plants Database
        Texas croton also has that unique aromatic smell when the leaves are crushed. It can be a little larger than the woolly croton varying from 1– 4 feet tall. The leaves tend to be a dark green on the bottom and a light green/gray on the top. The leaves also are entire and have no lobes. The fruit on Texas croton is divided into three sections each holding a seed. 

Texas croton also produces a seed crop that is very valuable to dove, quail and other seed-eating birds but like the woolly croton has little value for grazing livestock.

These will be found in the same areas as woolly croton, where recent soil disturbances have occurred. 

One-seeded Croton (Croton monanthogynus Michx.)
Melody Lytle, Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center
One-seed croton or prairie-tea is smaller than both the other types of croton, it’s height ranges from several inches to 18 inches tall. The stems of the one-seeded croton usually have a peach-pink-orange color. The plant has many wide branches unlike the other two species of croton. This plant gets its name from having only one seed instead of three like most members of the croton family.

Along with most croton species, the one-seeded croton also produces a seed crop that is very valuable to dove, quail and other seed-eating birds but again has little value for grazing livestock.


More information on these plants and other plants found in Texas can be found at http://essmextension.tamu.edu/plants/

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