Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Crown of Thorns and the Euphorbia Plant

As mentioned in an earlier post, the month of July is devoted to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Litany of the Precious Blood includes the verse and response: "Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns. Save us." Thus, July is an appropriate time to consider the plant Euphorbia Milii (also known as Euphorbia Splendens).

In Catholic horticulture, the Euphorbia Milii is called the "Crown of Thorns", "Christ Plant", or "Christ Thorn":
"The common names allude to the legend that the crown of thorns worn by Christ at the time of his crucifixion was made from stems of this plant. Interestingly, the stems of this plant are pliable and can be intertwined into a circle. There exists substantial evidence that the species, native to Madagascar, had been brought to the Middle East before the time of Christ."
Dr. T. Ombrello, the source of the foregoing quotation, gives a great deal of additional information about the plant as well as warnings about its toxic and allergenic properties.

Dr. T. Ombrello, "Crown of Thorns", website of Union County College (New Jersey), Department of Biology.

Botanical illustration of euphorbia, from Wikimedia Commons. In the public domain.

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