The "crown of thorns" plant—Euphorbia milii—is a semi-succulent and spiny shrub that is native to the island of Madagascar. Crown of thorns plants are available in several colorful varieties.
Crown of thorns shrubs stand about 3 feet tall at maturity. They have fleshy stems, leathery leaves, and half-inch-long black thorns that cover the branches and stems. According to Floridata, the leaves often drop off, leaving the plant completely bare. Crown of thorns produces showy, modified leaves called bracts, as well as small flowers that range in color from white to red depending on the cultivar.
Crown of thorns plants are hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11. The plants grow best in full sun, but they tolerate partial shade. They prefer nutrient-poor, well-drained, sandy soil. Crown of thorns plants tolerate both salt and drought.
Crown of thorns plants are susceptible to a number of diseases, including botrytis flower blight, leaf spot infections, and various stem and root rots. When bruised or broken, they exude a white sap, contact with which may cause severe itching. Do not plant crown of thorns near fish ponds. The sap from broken roots is lethal to fish, according to the Texas Cooperative Extension.
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