John 19:2 (HCSB)
The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him.

The Passion of the Christ Image from The Passion of the Christ.

What was the actual thorn plant that was used in Christ's crown of thorns?


4 Answers 4


A shrub or evergreen tree has much better properties for producing wreaths and crowns. The most common varieties used were bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) for making wreaths, the unrelated cherry or common Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), and also the Mouse Thorn (Ruscus hypoglossum).

Bay Laurel wreaths were often worn in Ancient Rome and also very popular in Ancient Greece. Bay Laurel leaves may stimulate the mind and memory. It is said that leaves were sometimes plucked from a bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) wreath and chewed by senators to reinvigorate their faculties during long debates.

During the ancient Olympics laurel wreaths were presented to winners of athletic competitions.

The cherry laurel was used by Emperor Nero to poison the wells of his enemies as it contains hydrocyanic acid.

Caesar had a Mouse Thorn wreath or Ruscus hypoglossum, hypo meaning under and glossus tongue.

Christ's Thorn Jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi) was made into crowns and sold to pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. There are quite a few shrubs and climbers with common names relating to Crown of Thorns or Thorns of Jesus.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is a good candidate. Branches cut from shrubs are easier to weave together as they are flexible and strong. Brambles and briers will crease much easier when bent, lacking the stronger wooden core belonging to shrubs and trees. There are canes that have better properties, though the Crown of Thorns is often pictured with longer pronounced thorns similar to those of a shrub or tree, assuming the depictions still remain accurate.

  • 1
    Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange Botani, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 2, 2016 at 14:39
  • 1
    This is some great historical context, but it would be great to see it paired up with a text or two. As such, this doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 2, 2016 at 14:40

The thorn plant that was used to make the "crown of thorns" which was placed upon the head of Jesus, is believed to be a plant called Euphorbia milii.

I actually have a cutting of this plant which is in a pot (and growing). It is about 50mm in height, has yellow flowers and the thorns are already appearing up the whole stem, and measure about 5mm. They are also very pointed and sharp.The plant is a climbing variety and will grow to a height of 1.8 metre. At this height,one can assume that the thorns must be at least 30mm long and "very sharp."

Below is information I retrieved from silive.com:

Euphorbia milii, commonly known as Crown of Thorns, is a member of the Euphorbia, or Spurge family, which includes the poinsettia and castor bean plants. Grown as a garden plant in warmer climates, in our area it is strictly a houseplant.

What we think of as flowers on Crown of Thorns plants actually are bracts, brightly colored modified leaves found beneath the small, inconspicuous flowers. Most of these succulents have red bracts, but many varieties can be found in all the warm colors, including pink, coral and yellow.

The word “Spurge” comes from purge or expurgate, which refers to the fact that it is poisonous if the sticky white sap, or latex, is taken internally in large amounts. Since some people are susceptible to this latex and may develop a rash similar to that caused by poison ivy, it’s advisable to wear disposable gloves when handling the plant.

The sap, as well as its sharp thorns, protects the Crown of Thorns from animals that otherwise would devour the plant entirely. The plant’s name alludes to the legend that at His crucifixion, a wreath or crown made from stems of this plant was placed on the head of Christ. As they are pliable, the stems conceivably could be intertwined and shaped into a circle.

Native to Madagascar, Euphorbia milii (formerly named Euphorbia splendens) was brought to the Middle East before the time of Christ, so it is quite possible the legend could be true. (bold added)

Here is a picture of the plant.

  • It was definitely not euphorbia milli.euphorbia milli is an ornamental plant producing flowers of different colours and a small plant. The actual plant used was a small bush with tiny leaves and thorns. I have seen this small tree in jerusalem
    – user11319
    Nov 28, 2015 at 14:15
  • 1
    You probably know better by now, but just in case, always make sure to properly attribute your source. Saying "I retrieved this from the Internet" is not sufficient. (I fixed this one for you.)
    – ThaddeusB
    Nov 28, 2015 at 18:29

We do not really know but bramble is a common thorn in Palestine:

Bramble Stem

From The Plants of the Bible there are a few other options to choose from as well:

THE Hebrew words atad, koz, chedek, choach, naazuz, shait, shamir, sillon, sirim, sirpad, zinnim, and eight others, have been translated variously “thorns,” “briers,” and “brambles” in the Old Testament; and the word akantha is the “thorn” of the New Testament. It is impossible to say whether or not a particular species of plant was intended by each of these terms. Most of them apply generally to thorny plants, of which there are many in Palestine at the present day. Commentators mention among the thorny plants of the Holy Land species of Zizyphus, such as Zizyphus spina-Christi, also Paliurus aculeatus, Acanthus spinosus, Ononis spinosa, Solanum spinosum, Tribulus terrestris, Lycium europæum, and species of Rhamnus, Centaurea, and Astragalus.

Since man’s fall, thorns of all kinds have come up on the ground, which was cursed (Gen. 3:18); and God in chastening Israel often refers to the curse of thorns. Thus Isaiah says, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers” (32:13); and Hosea prophesies that “the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars” (10:8).

The common bramble occurs in many parts of Palestine. (Balfour, J. H. (1885). The Plants of the Bible (p. 128). London; Edinburgh; New York: T. Nelson and Sons.)


According to the forensic evidence gathered from the Shroud of Turin, a large amount of pollen from Gundelia tornefortii

Gundelia tornefortii

was recovered from around the head.

Before you say the Shroud was shown to be a medieval forgery, that has been properly debunked. When you cut a piece of dyed cotton from a linen cloth, you are going to get a different date. The 1988 sample was from a damaged section of the linen shroud repaired in the 16th century after being damaged in a fire.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange Russell, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 2, 2016 at 14:34
  • Though this content may be useful to some readers, it's unrelated to hermeneutics, and there's no interaction with the text here. Take a look around the help centre and the wider site, and you'll get a better feel for how BH.SE works.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 2, 2016 at 14:37
  • The crown of thorns, the burial shroud and the cloth that covered Jesus' face (John 20:6-7) are all mentioned in the Bible. The Shroud is in Turin and the cloth that covered the face of Jesus is in Oviedo Spain, where it was brought by Mary Magdeline and Lazarus to escape the plot to kill Lazarus. (John 12:9-19) That cloth has blood patterns that match the shroud perfectly. This is all physical evidence that stands up to vigorous scrutiny and strongly supports the literal interpretation of the written accounts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, so I must gently disagree.
    – Russell S
    Dec 30, 2016 at 0:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.