Crown of Thorns

The other side of beauty can be prickly.

“Some of the most beautiful things worth having in your life come wrapped in a crown of thorns.”
Shannon L. Alder

I saw this interesting little plant on my walk this morning. I always thought it was called Desert Rose but when I cross checked, I found it was something different. The thorny stems are what make it distinctive from the Desert Rose. Its bright flowers, leathery leaves and those lethal looking thorns make me think of hot, dry, origins. Further investigation revealed it to be  the Crown of Thorns, Christ Plant or Christ Thorns, from the Euphorbiaciae family. Native to Madagascar, the legend has it that this little plant was introduced to the Middle East in ancient times and has been associated with the crown of thorns worn by Christ. Such a sad ‘cross to bear’  for such a pretty plant.

There can be a downside to beauty.

To enjoy the little Euphorbia we must risk the thorns, just as we do the prickles on roses or the spines on decorative cacti. They are the plant’s survival mechanism, serving to defend it from predators (ref).

The symbolism of the common name: Crown of Thorns, is not lost on me. The suffering of beauty that it infers, and the price paid.

There is a lesson here; one that is a little prickly to grasp. Oft times in the past I have dismissed otherwise good people because of their thorny natures; have not bothered to see beyond the barbed barricades thrown up to ward off those who would wound them. I’ve not allowed for why there might be a need for such defence, nor offered more than impatience. And rarely in the past have I attempted to understand or extend empathy.

But if age doesn’t bestow wisdom, then surely the least it affords is self-reflection and some softening around my own spiky edges. I can see it’s sometimes worth braving the prickles, and even drawing blood, if that’s what it takes to experience the beauty beyond some thorny exteriors.


The beautiful potential in the furled flower buds of Euphorbia milli

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

17 responses to “Prickly

  1. So true. A lot is made of “first impressions”. But I’ve always found that it’s the “prickly people” I meet that, in the long run, I get to like most and have the most rewarding relationships with.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This post really spoke to me Robyn. Lately I’ve been doing some self reflection and can clearly see how in the past I’ve viewed certain people and am ashamed to admit I’ve been closed minded. Growing older has helped me to expand my viewpoints and take a more balanced approach especially where people are concerned. Thank you for sharing this beautiful lesson with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful photos! I have two Madagascar palms given to me by a friend who drove them about 500 miles to deliver them. They are, like the Crown of Thorns, very prickly indeed, but unlike it, they have no flowers. Thank you for liking my posts about being a musician and my son’s trip to the Great Wall of China! I have browsed around your blog, delighted by what I’ve found, so I’m now following it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m thinking of someone prickly to whom I took an instant, alarming revulsion. Turns out I should have felt pity and concern. But it’s hard sometimes! The New Zealand plant Euphorbia Glauca is far less spectacular but very pretty nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

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