Christ Thorn, Jerusalem/Jeruselem Thorn

Paliurus spina-christi Mill.

Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn family)


Christ Thorn is a shrubby tree from Asia. It is an introduced, cool-season perennial. This multi-stemmed shrub in the Buckthorn family can grow up to 15 ft or 4.5 m tall. Christ Thorn can form dense, impenetrable thickets.    Its leaves are ovate to oblong or elliptic, measure about 0.75 to 1.5 inches or 2 to 4 cm, with an obtuse apex, and have smooth surfaces or are slightly hairy along the veins. Each node has a pair of thorns, one straight, one shorter and curved. The inflorescence has 5 to 11 yellow flowers. The plant has a tan or brown samara which is a type of fruit that has a flattened wing of papery tissue.     Christ Thorn is not readily browsed by livestock or wildlife. 


Christ Thorn grows along riparian areas and low areas that receive extra moisture. It has become established in certain riparian (associated with the banks of a river or stream) areas in the central Edwards Plateau and in open woods within Brazos County. Habitat types include floodplains, riparian areas, open woodlands, and pasturelands.