Garland Thorn (Paliurus spina-christi), also known as Jerusalem thorn, Christ's thorn, or crown of thorns, is a perennial thorny bush from the Rhamnaceae family. It has a widely branched trunk, reaching up to 9.8 ft (3 m) tall. The young branches are initially slightly fibrous but later turn bare and reddish.
The leaves of garland thorn are alternately arranged, in 2 rows along the branches, with petioles, egg-shaped or elliptical to round, fleshy, bare and shiny. The petioles are up to 1/2″ (1 cm) long, 2-4 times shorter than the lamina.
The stipules transform into 2 short, brown thorns, where one is longer and straight and the other is shorter and curled. The flowers are tiny, green-yellow, hermaphroditic. They are bunched in axillary racemes clusters.
The calyx and corolla have 5 sepals. There are 5 stamens. The ovary is half-inferior, almost completely merged with the torus. The fruit of garland thorn is a dry pit with 2-3 seeds, surrounded by a dry and membranous fleshy part. The seeds are flat, obovate, that remain closed even after ripening.
The herb is found on the territory of Southern Europe, West and Central Asia. Usually it thrives amidst rocky slopes, on rarer occasions along coastal dunes as well, and even in sparse oak forests. In some areas it forms nearly pure, large-sized plantations, while pushing out more prized wood and shrub species.
History of Garland Thorn
There are several legends about the origins of garland thorn. According to the Bible, when Adam and Eve sinned, God kicked them out of heaven and cursed the earth upon which they walked to sprout thorns and spines. According to another legend, when Christ was tied to the cross his crown of thorns was made of garland thorn branches. Hence the other name of the herb - Christ's thorn.
According to one Eastern belief, there were no thorny and poisonous shrubs upon the world's creation. All creatures lived in harmony and each took from nature only what it needed to survive. But evil emerged in the world and every living thing armed itself as best it could - with thorns and poison, with tooth and claw, and man - with bow and arrow. Whether garland thorn came into existence in this way, there's no way of telling, but touching its sharp thorns is not advised either way.
Composition of Garland Thorn
Garland thorn contains aminoglycosides, tannins and the flavonoid glycoside rutin. The leaves contain vitamin C.
Collecting and Storing Garland Thorn
Garland thorn blooms from June to September. Only the fruits of the plant (Fructus Aculeati), which ripen from July to November, are used. They are collected once they gain a yellow-green or yellow-brown color, using gloves or are shaken down. Any debris is removed, they are then laid out in layers up to 2 3/4″ (7 cm) thick and dried in ventilated areas, in the sun or in a dryer at a temperature of 113°F (45 °C). The dried fruits are brown, odorless and with a bitter taste.
Benefits of Garland Thorn
Garland thorn fruits are successfully used in folk medicine, since they have an expectorant, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory action. For whooping cough and chronic bronchitis, a garland thorn concoction is an excellent remedy.
It's also used for dysentery, dyspnea, hypertension, and certain skin problems, such as eczema and rashes. Even though the fruits of the bush are primarily used, the leaves are also not to be underestimated. The juice from them is used to strengthen the body, clear up the lungs and get rid of bladder stones.
The unripened fruits of the plant dye wool or silk in a yellow-pink or yellow-brown color. Garland thorn is used to make hedges, as well as in landscape architecture of dry and rocky slopes. The herb is a nectariferous plant.
Folk Medicine with Garland Thorn
In the past, garland thorn was used to treat a number of ailments. A remedy of the drug is used for diarrhea, bedwetting at night, for cleansing the blood and colon.
The herb lowers blood pressure, while herb compresses from garland thorn relieve insect bites. In some cases, garland thorn infusions even help against hemorrhoidal bleeding.
To make a remedy from the herb, pour 2 cups (500 ml) of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of dried garland thorn, boil it 8 to 10 min. and then strain. Drink 1 cup before meals, 3-4 times a day.
To treat diarrhea, drink tea from the plant 3 days in a row. For high blood pressure, pour 2 cups (500 ml) of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of leaves and just let them boil. Leave the remedy to cool and drink it in 2 doses in the morning on an empty stomach.
Dangers of Garland Thorn
Even though healthy, garland thorn can also be dangerous. In excess amounts, the herb irritates the kidneys and digestive tract. Use is recommended under medical supervision.