Texas Croton
Codiaeum texensis, AKA Croton alabamensis var. texensis

For many years, botanists believed this plant was endemic only to six counties in Alabama. It was promptly named Alabama Croton. In 1990, the plant was found in several counties in central Texas. Some research has been completed to indicate that the Texas plant is a subspecies of the Alabama Croton. However, other researchers believe the plant seeds were carried with settlers by wagon trains in the late 1880s so rather than a separate subspecies, merely a transplant that proved to be viable in a new environment. Some historians have also listed Indian migrations as a possible transfer source of the plant.

Whether the plant is introduced or endemic, it is a beautiful shrub and extremely hardy regionally. Texas Croton has semi-evergreen leaves that are light-green on the top and shimmering silver on the underside. Mature leaves turn orange or red-orange in the fall. Mature shrubs produce 2" panicles of pale yellow blooms in the late spring, which are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. Texas Croton does best when planted in afternoon shade in a site with excellent drainage. In its natural habitat, it can grow on limestone outcroppings. In a residential landscape, the shrub could reach 9-10', but in a natural habitat, it more often reaches 4-6' and as wide. This plant is adaptable to multiple soils including clay. It is drought tolerant when established and highly tolerant of our Texas heat. USDA lists the plant as viable from zone 6 through 9, but that presumes a natural expansion of its existing habitat. This plant should be placed on the Texas Endangered List due to the limited geographic range.