Croton capitatus Michx. - Hogwort

Croton capitatus plant

Family - Euphorbiaceae

Stems - To +/-50cm tall, erect, with single stem fom base and then widely branching above(with the appearance of a little tree), densely stellate pubescent,(the pubescence tan to brown), herbaceous, from thickened roots.

Croton capitatus stemStem.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles to +/-3cm long, densely stellate pubescent. Blade to +/-7cm long, +/-2cm broad, entire, acute to blunt at apex, oblong to lance-oblong or elliptic, densely stellate pubescent, rounded to slightly cordate at base, often mucronate.

Croton capitatus leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal raceme to 3cm long, androgynous, the staminate flowers typically well separated from the pistillate flowers with age. Peduncles densely stellate pubescent.

Croton capitatus inflorescence

Flowers - Pistillate flowers apetalous, sessile, with typically 7 calyx lobes, dense stellate pubescent externally. Lobes equal to unequal, greenish, abruptly acute at apex. Entire calyx(in flower) to 1cm broad, 8mm tall(long), slightly accrescent. Styles 3, yellow, densely stellate pubescent, to 3mm long. Stigmas 4-5-parted. Ovary globose to ovoid, densely stellate pubescent, 2.1mm in diameter in flower, 3-locular. Staminate flowers with 5 petals. Petals minute, white, oblanceolate, to 1mm long. Stamens 10 or more, erect to spreading. Filaments white, glabrous, 2mm long. Anthers whitish, 1mm long. Sepals 5, 1mm long, densely stellate pubescent, subulate. Capsule to 1cm long, 3-seeded(one seed per locule), typically with persistent styles.

Croton capitatus pistillate flowerPistillate flower close-up.

Croton capitatus staminate flowerStaminate flower close-up.

Flowering - June - October.

Habitat - Prairies, glades, fields, pastures, waste ground, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species is found throughout Missouri. It is attractive but often overlooked because the flowers are not showy. The plant would do well in cultivation as it needs little care once established.
Steyermark splits the species into two varieties which integrade. Variety capitatus is very common and has leaf blades to 7cm long, (but typically shorter), and stellate pubescence which has a brown or purplish stalk. Variety lindheimeri (Engelm. & Gray) Muell. Arg. has leaf blades which reach 10cm and has stellate pubescence with a white or yellowish stalk. This latter variety is much less common and found in only a few southeastern counties.

Photographs taken at Eufala National Wildlife Refuge, AL., 7-23-05.


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