Croton megalocarpus - Hutch.
Common Name Croton tree
Family Euphorbiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Dry sawdust may irritate the nose and throat of wood workers[ 299 ]. It has been reported that smoke from the wood irritates the eyes[ 299 ].
Habitats A dominant, upper-canopy tree of evergreen and semi-deciduous forest at elevations from 700 - 2,400 metres, sometimes also in riverine woodland and wooded grassland[ 299 ].
Range East tropical Africa - eastern DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya and southern Somalis, south to Zambia and Mozambique.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full sun

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Indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa, Croton megalocarpus is a fast growing deciduous tree that reaches up to 36 m high upon maturity. The bark is dark grey or pale brown in colour. The leaves are long and oval-shaped. The crown is dense and spreading. Plant parts like seeds, roots, and leaves have medicinal functions and are used in the treatment of stomach illnesses, malaria, wound clotting, and pneumonia. The seeds are used in dyeing wool. The wood of C. megalocarpus makes good fuel wood and charcoal. It is resistant to termite attacks and is used for fence posts and poles in construction. The leaves have high nitrogen content and are often used as mulch. Indigenous to ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.

Croton megalocarpus Croton tree

Croton megalocarpus Croton tree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Croton megalocarpus is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Croton elliotianus Pax

Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A maceration or decoction of the bark is taken as a vermifuge, and is also used to treat whooping cough, pneumonia, stomach-ache, fevers including malaria, and abdominal complaints associated with gall bladder and spleen problems[ 299 ]. Sap from leaves and young twigs are applied to wounds[ 299 ]. The oil has purgative activity and also showed Epstein-Barr virus activating potency[ 299 , 392 ]. Bark extracts showed weak antibacterial activity in in-vitro tests[ 299 ]. From the bark the clerodane diterpene chiromodine has been isolated as a major constituent, together with lupeol, betulin, beta sitosterol and long-chain fatty esters[ 299 ].


Other Uses
Agroforestry Uses: A natural pioneer species, it is fast-growing and also has a wide range of uses. It is a very good choice in plantings to re-establish native woodland or to set up woodland gardens[ 299 , K ]. The tree is not grazed by livestock and so is often planted in hedges, live fences, shelterbelts and windbreaks[ 299 , 392 ]. It is often retained when the forest is cleared and is used as a shade tree for coffee plantations[ 299 , 316 ]. Croton megalocarpus trees develop a deep taproot. This makes them quite drought tolerant and allows food crops to be grown underneath[ 299 ]. The foliage provides good mulch[ 299 ]. The croton husks are milled for fertilizer. Croton nuts have relatively high nitrogen content comparatively to typical composts and manures. The fruit shells are used as mulch in vegetable gardens and as a component of potting mixtures[ 299 ]. Animal feeds: Croton seed cake is used in animal feeds. Based on laboratory testing, protein accounts for 25-30% of the croton seed cake compared to comparable seed cakes like canola (18%) and sunflower (20%). The flowers provide nectar for honey bees; the honey produced is dark and has a strong flavour[ 299 ]. Other Uses: Seed oil is tested as bio-fuel[ 299 ]. Seeds have an oil content of about 30% and a protein content of about 50%[ 299 ]. Oil extraction from the seed is done by hand-operated or mechanized screw presses. The oil may be refined in a continuous transesterification reactor to produce bio-fuel of diesel oil quality, with glycerol as a valuable by-product[ 299 ]. The press-cake remaining after oil extraction can be utilized as bio-fuel and as an organic fertilizer[ 299 ]. The seeds can be used to dye wool yellowish[ 299 ]. The heartwood is yellowish white to brownish grey, often with irregular dark brown streaks; it is not distinctly demarcated from the 25 - 50mm wide band of sapwood. The grain is usually straight, texture medium; when freshly sawn it has an unpleasant smell. The wood is medium-weight; hard, strong, moderately durable, being slightly susceptible to termite, dry-wood borer and marine borer attack and liable to attacks by blue stain fungi. It is easy to saw and work with hand tools, but moderately difficult to machine; it usually planes to a smooth and lustrous surface; is resistant to abrasion; nailing, screwing, gluing, varnishing, painting and jointing properties are all satisfactory. The wood is only suitable for sliced veneer. The wood, most commonly known as ?musine?, is used for construction, flooring, stools, mortars, beehives, veneer and plywood. It is suitable for joinery, interior trim, ship building, vehicle bodies, furniture, cabinet work, railway sleepers and agricultural implements[ 299 , 316 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[ 299 ]. It is highly regarded as firewood but is not recommended for charcoal as the smoke stings the eyes[ 392 ]. The well-dried nuts are reportedly used as a fuel in some areas, mixed with charcoal in cooking stoves[ 303 ].
Cultivation details
Croton megalocarpus is a plant of the tropics, where it can be found at elevations from 700 - 2,400 metres. It is most commonly found in regions with a mean annual rainfall of 900 - 1,900 mm, with a dry season of 3 - 4 months and a mean annual temperature of 11 - 26?c[ 299 ]. It prefers light, deep and well-drained soils[ 299 , 392 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[ 299 ]. Being a natural pioneer of large forest gaps and forest margins, regeneration of this species is often prolific in the wild. It has been reported to become invasive under favourable climatic conditions[ 299 ]. A fast-growing tree in favourable conditions[ 299 , 392 ]. In Kenya seedlings reached a height of 1.7 metres in one year; in Rwanda they were 3 metres tall in 2 years and 11.5 metres in 5 years; whilst in Burundi planted trees were only an average of 3.6 metres tall 7 years after planting, and 15 metres tall with a bole diameter of 24cm after 32 years[ 299 ]. Trees may already start flowering when they are 4 years old. The flowers are short-lived and pollinated by insects such as bees. Fruits take about 5 months to ripen after flowering[ 299 ]. The tree can be managed by lopping, pollarding and coppicing[ 299 , 392 ]. When planted in hedges, plants should be pruned for the first time after 2 years[ 299 ]. Preliminary observations indicate that a yield of 25 - 30 kilos of seed per tree per year is realistic[ 299 ]. At the end of their productive life in bio-fuel plantations, approximately 50 years after planting, trees can be felled for their timber[ 299 ].
Seed - does not require pre-treatment, but is best sown as soon as it is ripe. The seed is generally sown directly where the tree is to grow, though it is also sometimes sown in a shaded position into individual pots and then planted out later. For fresh seed, a germination rate of around 95% can be expected, with the seeds sprouting within 45 days[ 299 , 392 ]. Because of its high oil content, the seed has a relatively short viability of around 9 months[ 392 ]. Seed stored in plastic containers for up to 1 year at 3?c had a germination rate of 80%[ 299 ].
Other Names
Croton megalocarpus or Croton tree
Found In
Indigenous to ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Reported to become invasive under favourable climatic conditions
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Chrozophora tinctoriaDyer's Croton, Giradol10
Croton lechleriSangre De Grado, Dragon's blood04
Croton palanostigmaSangre De Grado, Dragon's blood04
Croton salutarisSangre De Grado, Dragon's blood04


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Subject : Croton megalocarpus  

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