Plants 0.5-10 m, spreading, globose, compact to somewhat open. Stems ± terete, green twigs thorn-tipped, 25-70 cm. Leaves 0.2-1.5 × 0.5 mm. Inflorescences 3-15 mm. Pedicels 3-6 mm. Flowers: sepals greenish white, ovate-deltate, 1-2 mm, glabrous; petals greenish white or cream, obovate or oblanceolate, 3-4.8 × 0.8-1.4 mm; filaments brownish, 2.8-4 mm, flat; anthers 0.8-1 mm, slightly curved; gynophore (stipe) 0.3-0.8 mm; ovary ovoid, 1-1.2 mm; style 0.4-1.4 mm. Fruits ca. 5 mm, mucronate from persistent style. Seeds 3-3.5 mm. 2n = 44, 88.
FNA 2010, Felger 2000, Wiggins 1964, Benson and Darrow 1981
Common Name: crown of thorns Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Tree General: Shrubs to trees to 5 m tall, with spine-tipped, interlacing branches and twigs, bark gray-green on mature branches, young branches yellow-green and sometimes pubescent. Leaves: Linear-subulate, 1.5-2 mm long. Flowers: Inflorescence a small rounded raceme 1-6 cm long, the rachis spine- tipped, with slender pedicels 4-6 mm long, the sepals broadly ovate 1-1.5 mm long, the petals 4-4.5 mm long, rounded at apex, pale yellow, with 8 stamens equaling petals. Fruits: Globose red to black berries up to 4-5 mm in diameter. Ecology: Found on old alluvium, gravelly, or sandy substrates on slopes or Larrea flats from 2,000-5,000 ft (610-1524 m); flowers in April-July. Distribution: s CA, s AZ, s NM, TX; south to c MEX. Notes: K. spinosa is distinctive with its ruthless, stiff green branches ending in spines; mostly leafless stems and berries. It may form loose thickets, especially on north-facing slopes when occurring near the Arizona-Sonoran border. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Koeberlinia is named after Christoph Ludwig Koeberlin (1794-1862), a German clergyman and botanist, while spinosa is from Latin for thorny. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher 2011, FSCoburn 2015