Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Croton wigginsii, Wiggins Croton

Scientific Name: Croton wigginsii
Common Name: Wiggins Croton

Also Called: Dune Croton

Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge or Euphorbia Family

Synonyms: ()

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 3 feet (1 m), usually shorter.

Growth Form: Shrub or Subshrub; stems generally erect.

Leaves: Gary-green, leaves simple, margins entire; alternate, short petiole, leaf shape variable from narrowly elliptical to linear-oblong; hairs generally stellate.

Flower Color: White or cream colored "flowers" on a raceme; plants dioecious, pubescence of stellate hairs or scale-like; fruit is a 3-lobed or spheric capsule

Flowering Season: February or March to May - photos above taken in March in Imperical County, California.

Elevation: Sea level to about 300 feet (100 m) in California and Arizona.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy areas and sand dune communities.

Recorded Range: Wiggins Croton is found mostly in Sonora, Mexico from Guaymas north into the United States. In the United States it is limited to the extreme southeastern corner of California in Imperical County and southwestern in Yuma County, Arizona.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Croton wigginsii.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: In the State of California, Croton wigginsii is listed as rare with a California Rare Plant Rank of 2B.2 (rare, threatened, or endangered in CA; common elsewhere);
and has a Rounded Global Status of G2, Imperiled by NatureServe Explorer, An Online Encyclopedia of Life.

Genus Information: In North America there are almost 50 species of Croton and even more accepted taxa overall for the genus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 1,205 accepted species names and a further 529 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus Croton.

The genus Croton is a diverse and complex taxonomic group of plants ranging from herbs and shrubs to trees.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 10 species of genus, California has 3 species, Nevada has 2 species, New Mexico has 7 species, Texas has 24 species, Utah has 12 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Wiggins Croton appears to be restricted to sandy areas particularly sand dunes in Imperial County, CA., and in Yuma, County, Arizona. Plants in photos above were taken in March in Anza Borrego from which there is no listed distribution.

According to a 2011 study in Kenya, apparently Croton nuts, (C. megalocarpus) are a more economical source of biofuel than Jatropha.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Leatherweed, Croton pottsii.

The genus Croton is Greek derived and "tick" and refers to the shape of the seed in some species. The species epithet "wigginsii" is named in honor of Ira Loren Wiggins (1899 – 1987), an American botanist, Curator of the Dudley Herbarium, and Director of the Natural History Museum (1940-1962) at Stanford University. His Flora of Baja California is a standard work on the botany of the Baja region.

No information available.

Date Profile Completed: 06/24/2019
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 06/24/2019)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 06/22/2019).
Mark H. Mayfield & Grady L. Webster 2012, Croton wigginsii, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 24, 2019.
Berry, Paul E., Riina, Berry Ricarda, Peirson, Jess A., Yang, Ya, Steinmann, Victor W., Geltman, Dmitry V., Morawetz Jeffery J. Cacho, FNA | Family List | FNA | Vol. 12 | Euphorbiaceae | 31. Croton wigginsii L. C. Wheeler, Contr. Gray Herb. 124: 37. 1939.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed: June 24, 2019).
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 06/22/2019).
Milich, Lenard, Environmental Comparisons of Croton Megalocarpus vs. Other Tropical Feedstocks; (accessed on-line 06/22/2019).