Thursday, May 12, 2016


We think of tobacco as a horrible habit. But at one time it was a sacred plant. Almost all tribes in North America and most tribes in South America used it. It was smoked during rituals, ceremonies and during social events.  It was used to connect the worlds because the it has long deep roots underground, a green plant on the surface of the earth, fire that represented the sun, and smoke that rises skyward. It was put in a fire in a sweat lodge to thank the creator.  It can be smoked during prayer to take messages to the creator and to those who have died. It was also used medicinally for stomach aches and fever.

In bloom now in the crop garden at the UC Botanical Garden.

Crown of Thorns

Remember the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus? It was probably made of this plant. It was common in the area and flexible enough to bend into a headpiece. I guess it is not a sacred plant, but a plant with religious significance.

It is in fruit now at the UC Botanical Garden. This plant is on the path above the Rose Garden. It grows in a big mound, and seems to invite people to pat it to find out exactly how spiny it is. Prickly Burnet: a good common name.