Croton michauxii var. ellipticus
KROH-ton miss-SHOW-ee-eye var. ee-LIP-tih-kus
Synonyms of Croton michauxii var. ellipticus (5) (Updated on 3-5-21): Croton willdenowii G.L.Webster, Crotonopsis argentea var. elliptica (Willd.) Pursh, Crotonopsis elliptica Willd., Leptemon ovalifolium Raf., Leptemon verrucosum Raf.
Croton michauxii var. ellipticus (Willd.) B.W.van Ee & P.E.Berry is the correct and accepted scientific name for this variety of Croton. It was named and described as such by Benjamin William van Ee and Paul Edward Berry in Harvard Papers in Botany in 2009. It was first named and described as Croton elliptica by Carl Ludwig Willdenow in the fourth edition of Species Plantarum in 1805.
I first identified this plant as Croton willdenowii G.L.Webster. The species was named and described by Grady Linder Webster in Novon in 1992. This name is now considered a synonym of Croton michauxii var. ellipticus. Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri (volume 2, 2006) describes seven species of Croton in Missouri (U.S.A.) including Croton michauxii and Croton willdenowii (both were accepted species at the time). The Missouri Plants website only has information on four species and does not include Croton michauxii. The administrator of the site told me earlier he had a lot of updates to make over the winter. The link for Missouri Plants at the bottom of the page will take you to Croton willdenowii.
Ummm… Crotonopsis elliptica Willd. is also in the mess because this particular plant has one-seeded fruit, along with the former Crotonopsis linearis, etc. SO, at one point, the plants with one-seeded fruit were separated into the Crotonopsis genus. However, the Croton genus was reclassified to include plants with 1, 2, and 3 seeded fruit. SO, that has led to Crotonopsis elliptica becoming a synonym of Croton michauxii var. elliptica. Croton wiildenowii and Crotonopsis elliptica were apparently the same so they both become synonyms. Crotonopsis linearis now a synonym of Croton michauxii as well.
The genus, Croton L., was named as such and described by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
According to Plants of the World Online by By Kew, there are 1,149 species in the Croton genus (as of 3-5-21 when I last updated this page. It is a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae with 226 other genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will).
The above distribution map for Croton michauxii var. ellipticus is from Plants of the World Online. The map provided on the USDA Plants Database is the same. The species could have a wider range than what the maps show.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I took these photos from a few plants I found growing in one small area in the pasture in the back of the farm. The farm is in Pettis County in west-central Missouri. Henry County is across the street. The pasture was used for hay in 2019 and 2020 so I didn’t get to check on this plant until after the hay was cut. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any but maybe I will in 2021.
Some of the links below will take you to pages that use the name Croton willdenowii and others Croton michauxii var. ellipticus. Sites that list C. willdenowii as accepted say the other is a synonym and visa versa. It takes A LONG TIME for some websites and databases to update when names change and some never do.
When I posted these photos on iNaturalist, a fellow member suggested this species could be Croton glandulosus. I need to find these plants again soI can take more photos for a better ID. Currently, I am still leaning toward Croton michauxii var. ellipticus.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
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