Codiaeum variegatum [koh-dih-EE-um, var-ee-GAY-tum] or Croton plants are evergreen perennials belonging to Euphorbiaceae family of plants.
Other popular Euphorbia plants include:
- Crown of Thorns flower
- African Milk Tree Care (Euphorbia trigona)
- Firestick plant (Euphorbia tirucalli)
These natives of the tropical lands of India, Malaysia, and the Pacific grow readily in USDA hardiness zones of 11 through 12.
Croton plants, known by its common names garden crotons or Variegated Laurel, comprise of a range of shrubs and small trees with brilliantly colorful foliage.
This eye-catching plant is praised for its vibrant leaves painted by nature in glossy shades of reds, oranges, bronzes, yellow, purple, and green.
The striking hues are a result of anthocyanin, the secret ingredient found in the leaves of croton house plants.
The leaves, having a leathery texture, multi-colored and shiny appearance, grow 4” – 6” inches, while the plant reaches a height of 20’ feet.
The plant grows in various shapes and sizes and turns darker with age.
These plants get their name from the Greek word “croton” meaning tick due to their tick-like seeds.
Being an epitome of tropical beauty, croton tropical plants are grown as popular houseplants to accentuate the interior of a modern house.
Since the plant is as attractive to pets as to humans, it is important to ensure whether it is poisonous or not.
Is The Croton Plant Poisonous or Toxic?
Yes, Codiaeum variegatum like these popular varieties are poisonous plants.
While their toxicity levels are not as high as some other species of toxic plants, it is advised to be cautious when keeping them as houseplants.
Croton plants are found to be poisonous for humans, dogs, and cats.
These broadleaf evergreens contain toxic ingredients that are harmful in two ways.
The sap from the leaf or stems contains a skin-irritant which when comes in contact with the skin stain and cause contact dermatitis, a type of skin rash.
Secondly, if the plant is ingested in any way, humans may experience symptoms of gastrointestinal problems.
Similarly, it can cause serious abdominal discomfort for your furry friend, if ingested.
What Parts Of The Croton Plant Are Poisonous or Toxic?
All parts of the Croton, including the leaves, stems, roots, and flowers are poisonous.
Since the leaves and stems are the most exposed parts of the plant, it is important to steer clear of the milky sap produced in them.
The white sap, when touched, can lead to severe skin irritation.
The plant is inedible, but it can lure your baby or pet with its appearance.
Babies, dogs, and cats may chew on the leaves, bark, or blooms of the plant.
This causes a poisonous reaction and they may start showing symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Croton Poisoning?
While the symptoms might not be fatal, Croton plant ingestion causes a burning sensation in the mouth.
You might notice excessive salivation in pets and they may paw at their mouth as a sign of discomfort.
The burning might stop anyone from going for a second bite, but if the plant is ingested in larger amounts, it results in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms of an upset stomach.
Croton poisoning also makes your pet appear restless, tired, and moody.
Additional symptoms may include staining and painful irritation of the skin, called dermatitis.
How To Protect Yourself While Handling the Croton Plant?
Avoid coming in contact with the sap from the broken leaves or stems.
Wear protective gloves when pruning and trimming the plant or engaged in plant care.
If the toxic liquid comes in contact with you or your pet’s skin, wash the area thoroughly with soapy water right away.
If the plant is ingested or any symptoms of croton poisoning are experienced, contact a doctor, veterinarian, or a poison control center immediately.
While croton is a great ornamental plant, grow it outdoors with lots of bright light or keep the pots away from the reach of children and pets.