Saturday, February 4, 2012

Croton linearis – Pineland Croton

Croton linearis
Croton linearis growing at Juno Dunes Natural Area in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Croton linearis is a small, evergreen shrub about 1.5–3 feet tall that is commonly known as pineland croton or granny bush. It is native to the Bahamas, Florida, Cuba, and Jamaica. In Florida, it is confined to the southeastern and extreme southern portions of the peninsula and has been recorded from St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties, as well as the Florida Keys of both Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. In these counties, Croton linearis typically occurs in well-drained, dry, sandy soil near the coast or in rocky pinelands.

The wildlife value of Croton linearis is moderately high since its oily seeds are eagerly sought out by seed-eating birds and mammals; however, plants are either male or female and both sexes must be present for the seeds to form. Additional wildlife value is provided by the foliage, which is used as the caterpillar food plant of the critically endangered Florida leafwing butterfly, Anaea troglodyta floridalis.

Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio