The spikes and thorns, those characteristics that make some plants look so beautiful, and that have cost so many troubles. Who has not ever been pricked by the thorn of a rose bush or the skewer of a cactus? There is a wide variety of spiked plants and they all have them for good reason.
If you want to learn more about plants with thorns and what their function does, join us in this article.
Why do plants have thorns
Thorns are, exactly as they appear, a defense system for plants against predators, that is, against animals that seek to feed on them, especially herbivores large enough to chew on them.
Although this is the main reason, it is not always the only one. Cacti, for example, have spikes, which are specialized and adapted leaves . Their shape is thus not only as a method of defense against predation, but also as a way to prevent the evaporation of water , a precious resource in the desert environments in which they grow.
In addition, other plants have developed spines or specific shapes that allow them to act as a safe haven for insects or small animals, with which they develop mutually beneficial associations.
Used in the past in a very common way in traditional medicine, Jimson weed is known today as one of the most dangerous and poisonous plants that exist and its use is discouraged due to its great toxic potential.
This plant of the nightshade family is an annual herbaceous plant that grows to a height of approximately one meter. Its flowers, which appear at the end of summer, take the form of large and visible white trumpets with an intense aroma, although the most striking and characteristic of it are the thorny fruits of the jellyfish so as not to be eaten before ripening.
It is an extraordinarily resistant plant, whose cultivation is simple but with which we must be very careful if we have children or pets at home, because its leaves contain the alkaloids that make it so dangerous.
In agriculture it is treated as a weed, since it tends to appear in certain environments and forces the product to be discarded due to possible contamination due to its toxicity.
Agaves are actually a whole genus of plants in the Agavaceae family . They are desert plants native to America, with thorns on the edges of their long fleshy gray-green leaves.
The Agave americana, popularly called pitera, pita, acibara or cardón , among others, is the best known by far of the agaves, and currently has a large number of varieties, some of which show striated leaves. They are very resistant plants, which grow easily in climates such as the Mediterranean. So much so, that it is considered an invasive species in some autonomous communities of Spain.
It blooms only once in its life, producing a showy stem up to ten meters high, with a terminal inflorescence arranged in a panicle, which are usually pollinated by bats instead of insects.
You cannot talk about types of thorn bushes without mentioning rose bushes , those plants that occupy such a special place in popular culture in Europe. Closely related to thorns and love, the plants of this genus of shrubs are easily recognizable by their large flowers, the roses, which are as showy as they are aromatic.
Most of its species come from Asia, although some of them are native to North America, Europe, and Africa. They are one of the ornamental plants par excellence and among their great variety we find them with a shrubby habit, having also climbing and creeping plants.
The great kings of thorns, however, are not the roses, but the cacti. Cacti are a whole family of succulent plants originating almost all of them from the Americas, known for the adapted leaves that many of them have in the form of spikes.
They come in all shapes and sizes, but among them, the largest is commonly known as saguaro or saguaro. Originally from the Sonoran Desert, in Mexico, Arizona, and California, it is a giant whose stems can exceed 20 meters and its roots can exceed 30 meters.
It is widely used in gardening for its great beauty, being one of the most representative columnar cacti. It has the ability to absorb huge amounts of water after rain and, although it is slow-growing, it can live for more than 200 years.
The so-called crown of Christ or crown of thorns is another succulent with thorns widely used in gardening throughout the world. Its great assets are the great beauty of its red or pink flowers and how resistant it is as long as it receives the sun and is in a warm climate. It grows to over a meter in height, with striking black or dark brown spines on its stems and branches.
Other plants with thorns
Here you can know more species of plants that have thorns :
- Pachypodium lamerei
- Ulex europaeus
- Berberis thunbergii
- Datura ferox
- Acacia paradoxus
- Opuntia ficus-indica
- Echinopsis chamaecereus
- Echinopsis tubiflora
- Mammillaria matudae
- Mammillaria candida
- Schlumbergera truncata