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.
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. My book is perfect for helping elementary school kids learn about butterflies.