It's winter here in Hawaii, but luckily for us there's still plenty of beautiful blooms to be found around the island. One of these is the often overlooked Crown of Thorns. Part of the Euphorbia family, these succulents can produce beautiful blooms year-round. Like Anthuriums and Bougainvillea, the showy "flowers" of these guys are actually colorful bracts, with clusters of small flowers in the center. Crown of Thorns may not look much like the succulents you are familiar with, but like cactus they store water in their thick, thorny stems.
These plants have wild yet charming appearance, but if you are thinking of introducing them to your garden or home remember they are not exactly pet/kid friendly. Intimidating thorns make handling a delicate operation at best, and euphorbia plants have a skin-irritating sap and poisonous leaves, so be sure to wash your hands after touching them & keep them out of reach of curious pets.
Crown of Thorns are quite common & can be spotted around the island in container gardens and landscaping. If you are looking to see some of the more exotic varieties, stop by the Kapiolani Community College Cactus Garden in Kaimuki.