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Codiaeum variegatum

Phonetic Spelling
koh-dee-EYE-um var-ee-eh-GAY-tum
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Crotons are woody, flowering, broadleaf evergreen shrubs in the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family reaching heights of 8 feet in the narrow climate range of their native habitat - Malaysia, Pacific islands and northern Australia. It is more common to see these plants grown indoors where they can attain a height of 3 feet. While the wild type has green glossy leaves, cultivated varieties, known as var. pictum, are grown for their attractive, variegated foliage. The leaves of crotons may vary in size, shape, or color depending on which of the numerous cultivars is grown. The genus name comes from the Latinized version of the Ternate vernacular name, kodiho. The species name variegatum means variegated, in reference to the color of the foliage

Crotons prefer full sun or partial shade and well-drained, humusy soil that is occasionally dry and low-to-medium relative humidity. Water them liberally from spring to autumn, sparingly in winter. Mist leaves regularly, daily if possible. They are easy to grow as an indoor houseplant or outdoor accent plant in winter hardy sites in USDA Zones 11 and 12. The plants need bright light for best leaf color, with some direct sun, and may lose lower leaves in too much shade. To meet the plant's humidity requirements, consider standing the plant on bed of wet pebbles when indoors. Crotons do not require winter dormancy, but appreciate a resting period with reduced watering from fall to late winter.

Where protected from frost, use crotons as foundation plants, hedges, or specimen plants. Bring the plant indoors when temperatures reach 50 degrees F., or treat them as tender annuals planted outdoors in summer, or enjoy them year round as houseplants. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are green, leathery, and glossy
  • Upright interior shrub
  • Milky sap exudes from broken leaves or stems

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: 

Spider mite susceptibility sometimes limits interiorscape use to short-term. A milky white latex sap that exudes from damaged leaves or stems can be an irritant to soft tissue, causing itching and swelling. Wash your hands thoroughly when handling plants and keep hands away from the eyes.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Andreanum'
    broad oval yellow leaves with gold veins and margins
  • 'Aureo-maculatum'
    Yellow spotted leaves.
  • 'Majesticum'
    Nine inch long yellow and red leaves.
  • 'Spirale'
    Twisted red and green leaves.
'Andreanum', 'Aureo-maculatum', 'Majesticum', 'Spirale'
Tags:
#poisonous#houseplant#colorful leaves#interiorscape#ncemgva2018#glossy leaves#attractive leaves#variegated#fantz#leathery leaves#evergreen shrub#ebh#ebh-h#tropical#container plant#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Andreanum'
    broad oval yellow leaves with gold veins and margins
  • 'Aureo-maculatum'
    Yellow spotted leaves.
  • 'Majesticum'
    Nine inch long yellow and red leaves.
  • 'Spirale'
    Twisted red and green leaves.
'Andreanum', 'Aureo-maculatum', 'Majesticum', 'Spirale'
Tags:
#poisonous#houseplant#colorful leaves#interiorscape#ncemgva2018#glossy leaves#attractive leaves#variegated#fantz#leathery leaves#evergreen shrub#ebh#ebh-h#tropical#container plant#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Codiaeum
    Species:
    variegatum
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Malaysia, Pacific islands and northern Australia
    Distribution:
    South Central China, Cuba, Puerto Rico
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Oval
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    11a, 11b, 12a, 12b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a capsule containing three seeds that are 1/4 inch in diameter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Raceme
    Flower Description:
    A slender axillary raceme, at branch tips. Male and female flowers on separate inflorescences; the male flowers are white with five small petals and 20–30 stamens; female flowers are yellowish, with no petals.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Lobed
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, simple 18 inch leaves, linear to ovate, acute, entire or lobed, coriaceous (leathery), rugose (crinkled), glossy. Cultivated varieties are more colorful. Milky sap exudes when broken. Leaves are in bright colors ranging from yellow, pink, orange, red, bronze, purple and green in patterns involving blotching and striping.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Description:
    Woody old growth is vertically fissured.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Leaf Scar Shape:
    Round
    Stem Description:
    New growth green, old growth brown and woody with vertical fissures and oval leaf scars giving the stem a pock-marked appearance.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. SKIN IRRITATION MINOR OR LASTING ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES. Allergic dermatitis with skin rash developing after repeated contact. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea when ingested.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Diterpene esters
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems