Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Christ's Thorn


Paliurus hemsleyanus
Native to mountain forests in central and southern China; it is similar to the more well known P. spina-christi but much larger in size and foliage. It is a small to medium-size tree with the largest on record being 65 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 2.5 feet.
The obovate leaves at up to 5 x 3.5 ( rarely over 4 ) inches in size.
Hardy north to zone 9.

Paliurus orientalis
An evergreen small tree, closely related to Paliurus spina-christi but is native to mountain forests of southern China ( southwestern Sichuan & Yunnan provinces ). It is larger growing, reaching a maximum size of 53 feet.
The broadly-elliptical leaves are also larger, up to 5.5 x 3 ( rarely over 4 x 2 ) inches in size.
The smooth bark is gray.
Hardy zone 9 ( est ).

Paliurus spina-christi
A moderate growing, large shrub to 14 feet or rarely a tree, that is native from Spain to central Asia. Some records include: 20 years - 23 x 23 feet; largest on record - 33 x 30 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot. Excellent for use as a barrier hedge. Old plants can be cut back to the base and will regrow. This is the plant that was supposedly used to make Jesus's 'Crown of Thorns'.
The deciduous, oval leaves are up to 1.7 x 1 inches, are mid-green, turning to yellow during autumn.
The abundant, yellow-green flowers are small and borne in small clusters during spring. They are followed by a flat, round fruits with a membranous wing.
The well armed, arching stems have pairs ( 1 straight and 1 curved ) of sharp spines.
Hardy zones 7 to 10, hardy north to Baltimore. Prefers fertile, very well drained soil and a warm sunny site. Very drought tolerant.
Pruning in winter is recommended to cut out old wood and prevent overcrowding. Hedging is best pruned in winter while dormant.
Propagation can either be from seed sown during autumn or softwood cuttings taken in summer.

* photos taken on 4th of July 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

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