Plants that have developed thorns are those that live in normally arid or semi-arid areas. In these regions, temperatures can rise a lot during the day, exceeding 30ºC and even reaching 50 degrees Celsius at some points during the dry season. The reason? Avoid being eaten by herbivorous animals.
Inside its stems there is water, a liquid on which, as we all know, life depends. Therefore, when you are a plant that stores it inside its body, you have to have something to protect you: such as thorns. Do you want to know some of their names? Let’s go there.
Holly (Holly aquifolium)
We have said that thorny plants are those that can be found, basically, in those places where it rains little and it is very hot. But in Europe, in its temperate regions, we also have some. One of them is the holly, an evergreen tree or shrub that reaches a height of 6-15 meters.
Its leaves are green, oval, leathery, and have spiny marginsespecially of young people. As the plant ages, it only keeps its thorns on the lower branches. The flowers are about 9 millimeters in diameter, and are white or pink. The fruit is a red globose drupe when ripe.
Resists frost down to -18ºCas well as pruning. It is widely grown as a hedge in gardens, and also as a bonsai.
Mother-in-law’s seat (Echinocactus grusonii)
The Echinocactus grusoniiknown by the peculiar name of the mother-in-law’s seat, or hedgehog cactus, is a globular cactus endemic to Mexico, where it is unfortunately in danger of extinction. Its entire body is well protected by yellowish spineswhich arise from areolas and can measure up to 3 centimeters if they are radial, or up to 5-6 centimeters if they are central.
Over the years it acquires a more or less columnar shapereaching more than 1 meter in height. But its growth is very slow, so much so that in a period of ten years you will most likely only have to plant it in a larger pot about two times before putting it in the ground.
From my own experience, I can tell you that the cold does not harm him. Weak frosts down to -2ºC, either, but it is important that you protect yourself a little while you are young.
Borriquero thistle (Onopordum acanthus)
El borriquero thistle It is an herb native to Eurasia, with an annual or biennial cycle depending on the weather conditions. Its stems are greyish-white, or greyish-greenish, which tend to branch at the top. It can measure up to 2 meters in height, and It has spines of 2 to 10 millimeters in all its parts.
The leaves measure up to 35 centimeters, and are elliptical or lanceolate, composed of pinnae or ovate or triangular-shaped leaflets. Its flowers are grouped in inflorescences called chapters, measuring about 5 centimeters, and are pink.
It is a plant that has been used for consumption. For example, the young leaves and stems are eaten as a vegetable. Supports up to -4ºC.
Crown of thorns (Euphorbia millet)
The Euphorbia millet It is a species of shrub usually evergreen native to Madagascar. It can reach a height of 150 centimeters, with thin stems about 2-3 centimeters thick.. These are brownish in color, and very prickly. The spines are between 1 and 1,5 centimeters long.
If we talk about the leaves, they are green and round. Instead the flowers can be red, white or yellow.
Like all Euphorbia, it is a toxic plant. Inside it contains a latex that causes irritation, and even abdominal pain if ingested. Withstands mild frosts down to -2ºC.
Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
The Pachypodium lamerei It is a tree plant that, despite its name, has nothing in common with palm trees (These belong to the Arecaceae family, while the Pachypodium belongs to the Apocynaceae; in fact, its close relatives are the Adenium or desert roseAnd the nerium oleander or oleanders).
It is an endemic species of Madagascar that reaches a height of 8 meters or more. Its trunk widens with age, as it grows and stores water, reaching 90 centimeters in diameter. The whole plant is protected by strong thorns 1-2 centimeters longexcept its leaves, which are green and spear-shaped; and the flowers, which are white and measure eight centimeters.
It is able to resist the coldas well as weak frosts (up to -2ºC) if the earth drains the water well and if, at the time of the frost, it is dry.
Phoenix palms (Phoenix sp)
Palm trees of the genus Phoenix, including the canary (phoenix canariensis) and the date (Phoenix dactylifera) are perennial plants mainly native to South Asia and North Africa. Their trunks are generally straight and solitarybut depending on the species they can be multiple (as in the date, or in the Phoenix reclines).
Its leaves are pinnate, generally long reaching 4-5 meters long or even more. At the base, near the petiole, these leaves are actually sharp spines that can measure up to 5-7 centimeterswhich is why when handling them you have to protect your hands very well.
They resist the cold wellbut with frost you have to be careful. For example, a date or a Canary will hold up to -4ºC without suffering any damage, but the roebellini phoenix If it is not a little sheltered, it will have a bad time.
Bush roses (Rosa sp)
El rosebush It is a normally perennial shrub native to Asia, although there are some species that are from Europe, North America and even Africa. It is estimated that there are more than 30 thousand cultivars, and most of them are characterized by reaching a height of 2 to 20 meters, and by having semi-woody stems armed with thornswhich can do quite a bit of damage.
The leaves can be evergreen or deciduous, odd-pinnate, and have a serrated edge. Its flowers are grouped in corymbs, and they can be very varied colors: red, pink, yellow, white, orange, bicolor. These, in addition, depending on the variety, are also aromatic.
They are amazing plants, which resist moderate frost and pruning without damage (in fact, it is necessary to prune them so that they produce quality flowers).
Do you know other plants with thorns?