Croton megalocarpus.

Croton megalocarpus

Botanic description
Croton megalocarpus grows to 15-35 m; it has distinctive layering of branches and a rather flat crown. Bark dark grey, rough, and crackling. Hardy and fast growing. Leaves variable, long, oval and pointed to about 12 cm. The dull green upper surface contrasts with the pale, silvery underside. Flowers conspicuous but very short-lived; yellow white, inserted in many-flowered, silver-budded racemes, up to 30 cm long; a few female flowers towards the base, the remainder male. Fruit turns from green to greyish-brown as it matures. Endocarp hard and woody. Each fruit contains 3 ellipsoid-ovoid or oblong-ellipsoid seeds, 2.2-2.4 cm long and 1.2-1.4 cm wide. Seeds white when immature, grey-brown when mature, with a minute caruncle. The generic name ‘Croton’ is based on the Greek word for ‘tick’, because of the appearance of the seed. The specific epithet means large-fruited.


Croton  grows robustly in semi-arid climates on marginal lands (where did I hear that before?), produces 25-50 kg seeds annually with 32% oil content


Biofuel uses

It has recently been shown in Kenya that Croton nuts,are a more economical source of biofuel than Jatropha. In Kenya, Jatropha requires as much as 20,000 litres of water to make a litre of biofuel, while Croton trees grow wild and yield about  0.35 litres of oil per kilo of nuts. Croton trees are planted as a windbreak in Kenya and its use as a source of biofuel may benefit rural economies there. As arable land is under population pressure, people have been cutting down the windbreaks to expand farmland. This new use may save the windbreaks which should help fight desertification.


The statement above is a typical quote from somebody who knows nothing about agronomy and utterly nonsense. Jatropha yields about 0.25 ltr of oil per kg of nuts. Croton yields about 0.35 kg of oil per kg of nuts. So far so good. Jatropha is a shrub that sheds its leaves in dry season and starts to produce fruits after 1 year. Croton is almost evergreen and starts to produce fruits after 3 years. The fact that croton is a tree and evergreen implicates that it uses much more water than the Jatropha. A Jatropha that sheds its leaves hardly evaporates water. The only reason that Croton can become more profitable than Jatropha is the fact that it becomes a big tree so it absorbs more CO2, which is an asset. But it has nothing to do with water consumption.


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