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Seven Feet of Flowering Prickles.
It almost sounds like a bad nerdy joke, “what’s seven feet long and covered in two inch thorns?” E. Milii!
But it’s definitely no joke.
This plant has some serious attributes as well as some serious history.
A Tropical Beauty With a Bite
Originally from Madagascar the E. Milii plant is now grown as both shrub and house plants around the world.
Yes, house plants. Don’t be alarmed, the house plant variety is much smaller than it’s shrub counterpart.
However it is still covered in thorns.
Put that aside.
It is a beautiful flowering plant that has brightly colored bracts, leaf like structures that are attached just below the flowers.
It flowers year round, but especially during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.
I think that little quirk makes it very unusual and fun.
It is also poisonous! If the thorns didn’t scream stay away, the poison sure will.
At least the milky substance contained in the stem and leaves of this plant are poisonous. If you get it on your skin and eyes it can cause some very noticeable irritations.
I guess we could say this plant has two bites. Thorns and poison.
A Plant With A Sordid Past
Through no fault of its own, this plant has a prickly past.
But first, a little technical info. Euphorbia Milii is part of the spurge family.
Spurge plants are both perennial and annual and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and with just as wide of a variety of uses. Many grow thorns and have a milky sap, some don’t. Like I said, big family.
Below I’ve listed some of the more well known spurges.
Now, back to the fun.
“So what is this plant’s past?” you ask.
Well let me tell ya.
Euphorbia Milii is also known as Christ Thorn or Crown of Thorns.
While that revelation may be enough for most. Let’s keep going.
As the story goes, while Jesus The Christ was being tortured before his summary execution, a soldier made him a crown of thorns.
He was thus presented to the people, as they mockingly called him the King of the Jews, with this crown on his head piercing his skin.
Assuming, as many do, that E. milii was the plant used, and if it was woven that day. Then it wouldn’t be the dried version that is often portrayed but would be a green plant, that was full of poison as well as sharp thorns.
Makes you think, doesn’t it.
Crowns of Thorn
E. Milii, like other plants, has many variations to its appearance. And while the bracts can be yellow, they are often pink or red.
The symbolism of the thorns is obvious, with the red bract bunches symbolising Christs’ blood. Hence it has gotten the reputation as the Crown of Thorns.
But could others have that title? Possibly. Some other spurge plants are invasive to Israel, and may have existed in the area at the time.
It’s not really known when E. milii was introduced to the area, but is believed by many, to be well before Jesus Christ was born.
Just for Fun
Here are some other fun spurges you might recognize.
Not what you were expecting, I know. But this fun and festive plant with it’s beautiful bracts is used as a holiday gift and enjoyed by most.
I admit, I had one once and while I did keep it somewhat alive for most of a year, I could never get it’s leaves to turn colorful again.
These beautify white flowers are full of fine prickles. They sort of remind me in shape of the stare of Bethlehem flower but they are not nearly as friendly.
Indeed every part of a tread-softly is covered in these nettle like thorns.
While you might be tempted to pluck this wildflower, I would urge caution.
Tall cactus type succulents, these beauties can grow up to 15 meters tall and produce red flowers.
So now my thoughts are full of a species of plants that I knew nothing about until this past week.
But my research has given me much to ponder as the coming holiday approaches.
Plants and flowers have so much symbolism and meaning. Some of it has been derived from medicinal or protective uses.
Others, like the Euphorbia milii, due to one of the most intense moments in human history, have become the stuff of legend.
Comment below about your E. Milii knowledge or uses.