Saturday, April 11, 2009

Euphorbia milii, Corona de espina/Crown of thorns

Caravaggio, 'Crowning with Thorns' 1607 (127 x 165.5 cm)
Kunsthistorisches Museum ,Vienna.

Euphorbia milii var milii

Euphorbia x lomi (Poysean Group)

One of the plants associated with Easter is Euphorbia milii or Christ-thorn. Some of the different varieties and hybrids are shown above. The common name given to it alludes to the legend that the crown of thorns worn by Christ at the time of his crucifixion was made from the stems of this plant. The stems are pliable and can be made into a circle. Though it is native to Madagascar ,evidence suggests that it had been brought to the Middle East before the time of Christ. The genus Euphorbia was possibly already known, having been named by King Juba 11 (50 BC to 19 AD) of Numida (Algeria) to honour his Greek physician Euphorbus. The species name milii came much later after its introduction into cultivation in France in the 1820's.It was named after Baron Milius ,an administrator and governor of Bourbon (later Reunion) a couple of hundred kilometres east of Madagascar.The lucky Baron had obviously sailed across to explore the island while on leave from his governorship. Madagascar has an extraordinary rich and diverse flora and fauna.
Just to confuse the issue the species name of splendens is also used in relation to this plant. It is a splendid plant indeed and can be guaranteed to flower for most of the year, though ,like Bougainvillea it responds to cycles of dry and rain to stimulate flowering .This is something to keep in mind if you grow it indoors or as a balcony pot plant. 
2017 update: I have limited stock available.

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