Christs-Thorn


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Christ’s-Thorn

 

(Paliurus spina-christi;, in Russian, derzhi-derevo), a highly branched shrub that grows to a height of up to 3 m, of the family Rhamnaceae. The leaves are alternate, distichous, dense, and shaped like a slanted oval. They are almost entire, are on short petioles, and at the base they have two stipules, which have evolved into thorns. The blossoms are bisexual, small, and greenish-yellow; they grow in short axillary racemes. The fruit is dry and woody, with three seeds and a coriaceous brim.

Christ’s-thorn is found in Southern Europe and Southwest and Middle Asia. In the USSR it grows in the Crimea, the Caucasus, and southern Middle Asia in mountains with altitudes of up to 1,500 m. It grows on dry, sunny, rocky slopes and often forms dense thickets. A man finding himself in such a thicket has extreme difficulty in extricating himself (in the Russian name, the word derzhi means “hold back”). Christ’s-thorn is a decorative shrub and is used for hedges. The fruit and bark contain tanning substances.

S. K. CHEREPANOV