dove weed, turkey mullein
Male and female structures occur on separate flowers on the same plant (they are monoecious). Both sexes are inconspicuous. Male flowers are 1/8 to 1/4 (0.4 cm) across, in small groups at the ends of branches. They lack petals. The calyx is green and cup-shaped, usually with five lobes. There are 6-10 stamens exserted beyond the calyx with cream colored anthers and pollen. The female flowers occur in groups of one to a few in the axils beneath the male flowers. Female flowers lack both sepals and petals. There is one pistil with a plump, oblong, one-chambered ovary and one usually thread-like style, often curved or coiled. The main flowering period is May – October. 7
Other Common Names:
Species from the genus Croton should not be confused with the colorful, tropical houseplant with the common name croton (Codiaeum variegatum).
Doveweed is a small, neat greenish-gray plant that forms small mats or mounds; ours are usually less than a few inches high and two feet wide. The plant has a deep taproot, and it is regularly branched outward from a basal point. The leaves are rounded triangular to oval, with three prominent veins; they are reported to three inches (8 cm) long. All parts of the plant are covered with dense pale hairs. Most hairs are star shaped with many arms of similar length, others are similar but with a long, bristly hair emerging from the center. Minute glandular hairs beneath star shaped hairs give the plant a distinctive, not unpleasant odor. The hairs can irritate the skin.
Plants in the Reserve tend to occur in large, distinctive patches with individual clumps of one or a few plants well separated from one another.
The three most common crotons in Texas, and the three that have done particularly well this year, are one-seed croton, Texas croton, and woolly croton. All three are generally associated with soil disturbance, lack of soil cover, and overgrazing. On the more positive side, their leaves have a pleasant aroma when crushed (some have likened it to the smell of sage). The Texas and woolly crotons have a three-seeded capsule or “fruit” while the one-seed croton, also known as prairie tea, has a capsule with only one seed.
“…mourning dove and white-wing dove diets are comprised of more than 99 percent seed by weight. Even though these dove species are known to consume seeds from over 1,000 plant species nation-wide, seeds from certain plant species or families are represented repeatedly in dove diets. In Texas, doveweed is king.”
According to the Texas A&M Department of Rangeland, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management, there are 20 species of croton occurring in Texas, but Texas Dove Hunters Magazine puts it at “more than 25 species of croton” in Texas. In short, there’s no short supply of croton in Texas (you may just need to look out your window for confirmation of that) but don’t confuse this croton with the far more colorful garden croton, native to tropical areas, that is grown as an indoor houseplant. An endless landscape of bold and shiny evergreen leaves in vivid shades of greens, yellows, and purples, may sound more enticing but it would not provide the wildlife benefits of our more, well, beautiful-on-the-inside croton in Texas.
Although they’re each distinct, collectively they may be referred to as “doveweed”—and this is your first hint as to why croton may be actively cultivated. As Texas Dove Hunters Magazine puts it:
In addition to doves, these crotons are also reportedly an important food source for other birds including northern bobwhites and scaled quail, as well as additional seed-eating birds, including, at least in the case of woolly croton, Rio Grande turkeys.
Dove Field Mix is a mix of Peredovic Sunflowers and buckwheat designed to specifically attract and hold Doves. The combination of these large leafed, heavy stemmed plants offer a high volume of seed while helping to maintain a clean weed free base. The key for an effective dove field is providing easy access to a lot of seed free of weeds and debris. Doves are weak scratchers and need seed easily accessible on clean dirt. This is best done by controlling the weeds with effective herbicides and spreading the seed by mowing, disking, or burning after maturity. Plant after the chance of frost in early spring on a prepared seed bed. Needs approximately 120 days to mature. Always refer to your federal and local baiting laws before manipulating any crops for the purpose of hunting.