The crown of thorns is a sprawling shrub growing 2-4 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. across. Woody stems are 7 sided and armed with 1 in. long spines. Leaves grow 1-2 in. long and are dropped under moisture stress. Deep red flower bracts start in spring and intermittently throughout the year.
This popular garden plant comes from subtropical climate zones of Madagascar. It grows in frost-free microclimates of the Inland Empire where it is particularly well suited to pots and raised planters in sunny locations. Several cultivars can be found in nurseries and garden centers that provide rose-red to yellow flowers. E. m. var. splendens is a larger plant that grows 4-5 ft. tall and produces the largest flowers for a dramatic spring display.