Croton punctatus N. von Jacquin is a New World tropical and subtropical dioecious, rhizomatous, subshrub or herb with apetalous flowers that is common on coastal beaches. Herein, we present a review of the biology of this important pioneer species. Large colonies of C. punctatus promote embryonic dune formation in belts parallel to the shoreline. Colonies act to intercept wind-transported sand. Colony success is related, in part, to a large seed bank and a relatively high germination potential. Other factors contributing to successful colonization include tolerance of sand scouring, salt spray deposition, burial, high substrate temperatures, and low levels of soil nutrients. Its northern distribution limits appear to be determined by the frequency, duration, and severity of freezing temperatures. Transplanted seedlings have relatively high survival rates. Therefore, C. punctatus has been useful in stabilizing sandy dredged material.
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Vol. 2009 • No. 251