Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thorns, Spines and Prickles

In botanical morphology, thorns, spines, and prickles are hard structures with sharp, or at least pointed, ends. Thorns are modified branches or stems. Spines are modified leaves, stipules, or parts of leaves. Prickles are more comparable to hairs. The Book of Genesis recounts the creation of thorns as one of the punishments for the sin of Adam and Eve. One of the most enduring cultural images is the Crown of Thorns described in the Bible as having been placed on the head of Jesus before his crucifixion.

Meet Euphorbia milii (Crown-of-thorns or Christ Plant) which is a woody, succulent species of Euphorbia native to Madagascar. The species name commemorates Baron Milius, once governor of RĂ©union, who introduced the species to France in 1821. It is suspected that the species was introduced to the Middle East in ancient times, and legend associates it with the crown of thorns mentioned above. I have a couple of these guys in my yard and I wouldn't touch them even if my life depends on it.

No comments: