Excoecaria cochinchinensis cv. Firestorm (Chinese Croton Firestorm, Variegated Blindness Tree, Jungle Fire Plant)
We had this remarkable beauty about two years ago. Unfortunately, the plant died six months later for unknown reasons, possibly due to our ignorance about its cultural requirements.
Absolutely love its impressive cascading habit that seems to dance on windy days to show off its amazing foliage variegation.
Splendid when grown in a hanging pot where the underside of leaves in various hues of maroon are visible and can be fully appreciated.
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
- Botanical Name:
Excoecaria cochinchinensis cv. Firestorm (syn.:Excoecaria bicolor, Antidesma bicolor).
- Common Name: Chinese Croton Firestorm, Variegated Blindness Tree, Blindness Tree, Jungle Fire Plant and ‘Buta Buta’ in Malay.
- Family name: Euphorbiaceae
- Etymology: The genus, Excoecaria is from the Latin word, ex-caeco, meaning to make blind, referring to the sap of the species in the genus that has been reported to cause temporary blindness. The specific epithet conchinchinensis is derived from the word Cochinchina, an old name for Vietnam and was given to the plant in 1790 by Portuguese Jesuit missionary and botanist Joao de Loureiro.
- Origin: Native to Southeast Asia and Yunnan in China and through Indochina to Malaysia.
- Plant type:
A tropical to subtropical evergreen shrub.
- Features: Excoecaria cochinchinensis is a species in the genus Excoecaria that comprises of about 40 species of plants.
In its native habitat, E. cochinchinensis produces olive-green to dark green foliage. This shrub is more robust and resilient than the variegated cultivar named ‘Firestorm’.
Nevertheless, this popular cultivar ‘Firestorm’ is truly eye-catching. It has impressive variegation on its leaves, with various shades of grey green, creamy-yellow, off-white and a tinge of pink on the upper surfaces and reddish-maroon or reddish-purple on the undersides.
New growth is bronzy red. Definitely a sight to behold.
The somewhat wavy and simple leaves are 6-14 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. Its shiny and papery leaves are lanceolate-shaped and arranged on opposite sides of the woody stems and cascading branches. An evergreen shrub that has a slow to moderate growth rate, reaching about 1-2 meters tall.
This dioecious shrub produces inconspicuous greenish flowers at the leaf axils.
Do take precaution when handling this plant because its sap is toxic as with many of the the plants in the Euphorbiaceae family. It can cause allergy and irritation to the skin, especially to the eyes in some people. Hence, commonly named Blindness Tree or Buta-buta in Malay.
- Culture (Care): Excoecaria cochinchinensis cv. Firestorm grows easily with minimum care.
Light: Filtered sunlight to light shade. However, it grows best in morning sun and afternoon shade. It loves warmth and humid conditions.
Moderate water requirement. Allow the surface soil to slightly dry out between waterings, especially if plant is potted.
Soil: Any well-draining and well-aerated potting soils will be fine.
Others: Handle the Chinese Croton with precaution as the sap is toxic and may cause skin irritation for some people. If grown indoor as a potted plant, shower it occasionally to remove accumulated dust. Feed it with a balanced foliage fertiliser once monthly. Prune your plant to rejuvenate and encourage more branching for a more bushy appearance. Generally free from serious pests and diseases.
For subtropical and temperate regions:
Hardiness: USDA Zone 10b – 11. Some gardeners have claimed that it can be cold hardy to at least -1.11°C to -2.78°C for a short time, with some damage to the variegated foliage. For non-hardy regions, best to grow in a hanging basket or pot that can overwinter as houseplants indoors or in a greenhouse. Feed during spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer for foliage plants.
- Usage: With its dramatically colourful foliage, Eexcoecaria cochinchinensis cv. Firestorm makes a showy accent plant in any garden.
Excellent for container planting or on raised planter and located at patio, porch and courtyard.
Its impressive ornamental foliage variegation and cascading habit makes it ideal to be grown in hanging baskets to maximise its spectacular beauty.
It can be grown indoors as a houseplant or greenhouse plant and outdoors to add interest and contrast.
Great specimen shrubs or small trees for landscaping or plant them en masse as screen for some privacy.
Though it is considered poisonous, it is known to be beneficial as anti-parasitic, antipruritic and haemostatis. Read more about it at Global Information Hub On Intergrated Medicine.
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Last edit: June 15, 2016