Book of Mediterranean Trees, Shrubs and Climbers
Paliurus spina-christi Christ's Thorns
Paliurus spina-christi, commonly known as Jerusalem thorn, garland thorn, Christ's
thorn, or crown of thorns, is a species of Paliurus native to the Mediterranean region
and southwest and central Asia, from Morocco and Spain east to Iran and Tajikistan. It
is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 3–4 m tall. The shoots are zig-zagged,
with a leaf and two stipular spines (one straight, one curved) on the outside of each
kink. The leaves are oval, 2–5 cm long and 1–4 cm broad, glossy green, with an entire
margin. The fruit is a dry woody nutlet centred in a circular wing 2–3.5 cm diameter.
The name reflects an old legend that the spiny branches were used to make the crown of
thorns placed on Christ's head before his crucifixion. It is viewed as an ornamental
curiosity and is cultivated in some areas spreading its range, including Fiji. The
Christ's Thorn Jujube, is also identified as being used for the thorn crown.