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.
My film, "The Secret Lives of Monarchs," is now available on Amazon.
As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I studied Conservation of Natural Resources. I took a couple of entomology classes and became very interested in insects. After I graduated, I held several jobs working with bugs: in the fields of central California, the forests of Connecticut and Idaho, and the labs of Berkeley. Then I went to grad school and studied entomology at UC Riverside and UC Berkeley (back in the olden days when UCB had an entomology department). When my kids were little, I wanted to share my love of insects with them, so I started a butterfly garden before butterfly gardens were popular. Then of course, their teachers asked me to bring caterpillars into the classroom and I started doing classroom presentations. I do presentations in elementary schools, provide teacher trainings, teach adult school classes, and bring live insect specimens to garden fairs. I am also publishing a series of butterfly paper-crafts in the Butterfly Gardener Magazine.