Croton monanthogynus - Michaux
Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) Family
Prairie Tea is a native herbaceous annual in the Spurge family. It is native to much of Alabama in areas with clay or chalk soils derived from limestone. The plant occurs in prairies, in cedar glades, on limestone outcrops, on roadside banks, and in disturbed woodlands. It is an annual with a tap root. The stems are 1-2 feet in height and dichotomously branched from near the base. The stems are pubescent with star-shaped hairs, often with a dark brown center.
The leaves are alternate, petiolate, ovate to elliptic in outline, with entire margins. The lower surface of the leaf is whitish in color and pubescent with star-shaped hairs, some with dark brown centers. The upper surface of the leaf is dark or olive green and downy with star-shaped hairs without dark centers. When crushed the leaves have a spicy or fetid smell.
The flowers are produced in axillary or terminal racemes. Each raceme contains 3-10 staminate flowers and 1-3 pistillate flowers. Staminate flowers have 3-5 sepals that are downy with star-shaped hairs on the outer surface; 3-5 white petals that are hairy along their margins, and 3-5 stamens. The pistillate flowers have 5 sepals that are pubescent on their outer surface with star-shaped hairs, some of which have dark centers. The female flowers lack petals and have 2 styles, each of which is divided to their base.
Fruit is a pendulous capsule.
Prairie Tea is a larval food for Leafwing Butterflies, and the seed are consumed by many bird species.