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Croton tiglium - L.

Common Name Croton Oil Plant. Croton, Purging croton.
Family Euphorbiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[299 ]. The seeds are known to be very poisonous, and are used as fish poison or for criminal purposes - four seeds can be a lethal dose for a human adult[299 ]. The toxic principles are crotonol, an extremely vesicant resin; and crotin, a delayed-action poison which causes blood-clotting. Symptoms of croton oil poisoning are firstly pain at the back of the throat, then in the anus. A dose of bismuth is an immediate antidote[332 ].
Habitats Montane sparse forests, limestone shrublands at elevations of 300 - 700 metres in southern China[266 ]. Occurs in a wide range of vegetation and soil types at elevations up to 1,500 metres[299 ].
Range E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Croton tiglium Croton Oil Plant. Croton, Purging croton.
Croton tiglium Croton Oil Plant. Croton, Purging croton. Vinayaraj


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Croton tiglium is an evergreen Tree growing to 7 m (23ft) by 7 m (23ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Alchornea vaniotii H.L?v. Croton acutus Thunb. Croton arboreus Shecut Croton birmanicus M?ll-Arg. Croton camaza Perr. Croton himalaicus D.G.Long. Croton jamalgota Buch.-Ham. Croton muricatus Blanco Croton officinalis (Klotzsch) Alston Croton pavana Buch.-Ham. Croton xiaopadou H.S.Kiu. Halecus verus Raf. Kurkas tiglium (L.) Raf. Oxydectes birmanica (M?ll.Arg.) Kuntze Oxydectes blancoana Kuntze Oxydectes pavana (Buch.-Ham.) Kuntze Oxydectes tiglium (L.) Kuntze Tiglium officinale Klotzsch


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.

Extreme caution should be taken with all medical applications of this plant in view of its extreme toxicity[299 ]. Only the seeds have been chemically analysed in detail. They contain 30 - 45% of a fixed oil named croton oil and about 20% protein. The composition of the oil varies with the method of extraction. The oil comprises the fatty acids oleic acid 37%, linoleic acid 19%, myristic acid 7.5%, arachidic acid 1.5%, palmitic acid 1%, formic acid 1%, acetic acid 0.5%, stearic acid 0.5% and smaller amounts of butyric acid, lauric acid, tiglic acid and valeric acid. The oil also contains a group of proteins called ?crotin?, about 3.5% croton resin (?crotonol?), a glucoside called crotonoside (isoguanosine), and a non-volatile unsaturated fatty acid responsible for the purgative properties. Croton oil causes severe inflammation on the skin[299 ]. Crotin is a mixture of the toxic proteins croton globulin and croton albumin. It has haemolytic and blood coagulant properties with a delayed poisonous effect. In humans erythrocytes are merely deformed and rapid antibody formation is induced[299 ]. The vesicant and irritant properties of the seed oil are mainly due to croton resin, which contains esters of long-chain fatty acids and the diterpene phorbol. Such phorbol esters also show paradoxical biological activity, some being strongly co-carcinogenic, others having anti-cancer activity[299 ]. The seed and seed oil have long been used in tropical Asia as a strong purgative, cathartic and poison[299 ]. In Malaysia one seed is eaten as a purgative by adults and coconut milk is drunk to stop the effect. The seed oil was formerly included in several pharmacopoeias as a purgative, but because the oil is not stable, it has proved unreliable and has therefore been excluded[299 ]. The oil is a strong vesicant but diluted it can be employed as a counterirritant for various skin affections[299 ]. The seed oil and bark were widely used in folk medicine as a remedy for cancerous sores and tumours, carbuncles, colds, dysentery, fever, paralysis, scabies, schistosomiasis, snakebite, sore throat and toothache[299 ]. The powdered seeds mixed with dates are eaten as a purgative[299 ]. The root is used as an abortifacient and purgative[299 , 332 ]. The leaves are used as a poultice to treat snakebites[299 , 332 ].


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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: Plants are grown as a monocrop or as an intercrop with cacao or coffee, providing some shade[299 ]. The plant has some potential in suppressing the very invasive lalang grass, Imperata cylindrica[332 ]. Other Uses An extract of the seed can be used as an insecticide for field application and in stored cereals and pulses[299 ]. Aqueous extracts of latex and stem bark showed molluscicidal activity against the freshwater snails Lymnaea acuminata and Indoplanorbis exustus; at high doses these extracts were also lethal to the freshwater fish Channa punctatus[299 ]. The seed oil may also be used in the production of soap and candles. However, for illumination it can only be used outdoors as the smoke is toxic[299 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming


Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Industrial Crop: Oil  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

A plant of the lowland tropics and subtropics, it tolerates an annual rainfall of 600 - 1,200 mm and an annual temperature in the range 21 - 27.5?c[299 ]. Succeeds in soils with a pH ranging from 4.5 - 7.5[299 ]. Succeeds in very poor soils[332 ]. Plants start flowering after 18 months, Seed yield in the third year may be 200 - 750 kg seed/ha[299 ]. By the sixth year plants have reached full bearing and yields are 750 - 1,000, occasionally to 2,000 kg/ha[299 ]. The seed oil of Croton tiglium is commonly used in laboratories throughout the world for its vesicant properties. The phorbol esters isolated from the oil also have interesting tumour-promoting or tumour-inhibiting properties, and although much research has been done, more is needed to elucidate their future potential. As the other parts of the plant are poisonous as well, it might be worthwhile investigating their chemistry and pharmacology. A large number of pharmaceutical applications of Croton tiglium are being patented in China. The extensive ongoing research may lead to new developments elsewhere too[299 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Industrial Crop: Oil  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, biomass, glycerin, soaps, lubricants, paints, biodiesel. Oilseed crop types.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.


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Seed - Cuttings

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Jayapala, Jamalgota, Nepala, Nervalam, Purging croton

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Europe, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
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Chrozophora tinctoriaDyer's Croton, GiradolPerennial0.0 0-0  LMHSNM10 
Croton lechleriSangre De Grado, Dragon's bloodTree12.0 10-12 FLMHNM041
Croton megalocarpusCroton treeTree25.0 10-12 FLMNM024
Croton palanostigmaSangre De Grado, Dragon's bloodTree12.0 10-12 FLMNM042
Croton salutarisSangre De Grado, Dragon's bloodTree12.0 10-12 FLMNM040

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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