Species native to Indonesia, southern India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Australia and the western Pacific Islands. The genus name is derived from the Greek kodeia, 'poppy-headed',
Highly toxic, especially its latex, it is a species widely used as an ornamental plant (indoors in temperate and cold regions, outdoors in warm and tropical regions). There is a very wide variety of cultivars, with a wide range of colours and leaf shapes (lobed, oval, trilobular, lanceolate...). Among the most popular cultivars are 'Spirale', (red and green spiral leaves), 'Andreanum' (yellow oval leaves with golden veined margins), 'Majesticum' (linear leaves with yellow central rib maturing to red), 'Aureo-maculatum' (yellow leaves), etc.
In New Caledonia, in the Kanak culture, croton symbolises the presence of ancestors by being planted around dwellings. Thus, when the forest recovers a space after being depopulated, the presence of this plant acts as a witness to the former areas inhabited by the natives.