Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Croton pottsii, Leatherweed

Leatherweed has white flowers which are modified into a “cyathium” with male and female flower parts. Note stem in photo has “crusty” and “star- like” hairs. Croton pottsii Leatherweed fruits are 3-lobed capsules. Again, observe the “scurfy” rough surfaces of the foliage. Croton pottsii Leatherweed grows up to about 1 foot (30 cm) in height and prefers elevations between 2,500 to 6,000 feet ((1.5 – 3.72 m). Plants bloom from April or May to October. Croton pottsii Leatherweed has gray-green or pale to ashy green leaves and the surfaces are covered with small scales. Leaves are sometime clustered near the flowering stem. Croton pottsii Leatherweed is found on dry rocky slopes. It is found the southwestern part of the United States in AZ, NM and TX. Plants in photos taken in March in Anza Borrego State Park, from which there are no listed records of distribution. Croton pottsii

Scientific Name: Croton pottsii
Common Name: Leatherweed

Also Called: Leatherweed Croton

Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge or Euphorbia Family

Synonyms: (Croton corymbulosoides, Croton corymbulosus, Croton eremophilus, Croton pottsii var. pottsii, Lasiogyne pottsii, Oxydectes pottsii)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 12 inches more or less (30 cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; foliage with watery latex, foliage is rough with stellate to lepidote hairs, many stems originate from base, fewer stems distally.

Leaves: Gray-green, pale to ashy green, the leaf surfaces are covered with small scales, and the leaves are sometimes clustered near flowering stem, stellate, alternate, mostly lanceolate but also ovate-oblong, margins entire.

Flower Color: White; flowers are modified into a cyathium, plants monecious or dioecious, inflorescence terminal emerging from leaf axils, fruit is a 3-lobed capsule.

Flowering Season: April or May to October

Elevation: 2,500 to 6,000 feet, (1.5 - 3.72 m)

Habitat Preferences: Common on dry rocky slopes.

Recorded Range: Leatherweed is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, NM and TX and southward well into Mexico. Plants in photos taken in March in Anza Borrego from which there is no listed distribution.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Croton pottsii.

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

Genus Information: In North America there are almost 50 species of Cronton 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.

There are 2 varieties in Croton pottsii;
Croton pottsii var. pottsii, leatherweed (AZ, NM, TX);
Croton pottsii var. thermophilus, leatherweed, (TX);

Comments: Plants in photos taken in March in Anza Borrego and Anza Borrego State Park, from which there are no listed records of distribution. Arizona type for Croton pottsii from Camp Bowie, Cochise County (Rothrock)

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 Wiggins Croton, Croton, wigginsii.

The genus Croton is Greek derived and "tick" and refers to the shape of the seed in some species. The species epithet "pottsii" is named in honor of John J. Potts, (1840-1855), naturalist and plant collector from 1842-1855. Mr. Potts was one of the original partners, and later prime lessee in the Guanajuato Mint, Ciudad, Chihuahua. (1830's).

According to Kearney and Peebles, 1960, "the leaves are reported to be used in domestic medicine in Texas."

Date Profile Completed: 06/24/2019
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, as Croton corymbulosus, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
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 06/24/2019).
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 | 23. Croton pottsii (Klotzsch) Müller Arg. in A. P. de Candolle and A. L. P. P. de Candolle, Prodr. 15(2): 561. 1866.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Croton (plant)', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 May 2019, 10:54 UTC, [accessed 23 June 2019]
Milich, Lenard, Environmental Comparisons of Croton Megalocarpus vs. Other Tropical Feedstocks; (accessed on-line 06/22/2019).
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 06/22/2019).
JSTOR Global Plants, accessed on-line 03/06/2020