Native to the semi-desert areas of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle-East this  herbaceous perennial is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, yarrow and lettuce.  It has a thick, woody, verticle root and produces a rosette of leaves  that gives rise to a low branching stem with 10 or more branches bearing pinnately dissected, toothed leaves measuring  2.7-12″ long and tipped with spines. The prominent mid- and side- veins are white sometimes tinged with purple and the leaf surface may be covered with spider-like hairs.  The terminal compound flower heads are spiny, appear from late winter to mid spring, and consist of a single a floret surrounded by its own involucre. The florets may be cream, white, yellow, greenish, purple, reddish or silvery.  The fruit is an achene.  As the plants mature they dry up, and from late spring to summer detach from the root and are rolled by the wind as a tumbleweed, dispersing their seeds over a wide area.  All parts of the plants are edible and are used as food while while the milky latex is used to make chewing gum.  In addition,  the plants have significant medicinal value and can be used to treat a variety of diseases. Recently Gundelia has become of interest because its pollen was discovered on the Shroud of Turin and some authorities have suggested that this indicates that the crown of thorns was made of Gundelia. This theory, however, is disputed.  The genus name,  Gundelia,  honors Andreas von Gundelsheimer (1668–1715), a German botanist who accompanied Tournefort on his collecting trip to the Levant.  The specific epithet,  tournefortii, honors Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, a French botanist, who  first collected, described, and illusrated the plant in the Levant.

Type:  Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Spiny flowerheads from late winter to mid spring

Size: 16″ H

Light:Full sun

Soil: Light, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 7 and warmer

Care: Not relevant

Pests and Diseases: Not available

Propagation: Seed

Companion Plants: Not relevant

Outstanding Selections: None

Photo Credit:Wikipedia




By Karen