THORNS AND THISTLES:
The desert flora of Palestine is unusually rich in thorns and thistles, containing a whole series of acanthaceous shrubs and various thistles, including Acanthus, Carduus (thistle), Centaurea Calcitrapa (star-thistle), Cirsium acarna, Linn. (horse-thistle), Cnicus benedictus, Linn. (blessed thistle), Cynara Syriaca, Linn. (cardoon), Echinops (globe-thistle), Eryngium nitraria, Noea, Notobasis Syriaca, Linn. (Syrian thistle), Ononis antiquorum, Linn. (tall rest-harrow; var. leiosperma, Post), Onopordon (down-thistle), Phæopappus scoparius, Sieb., Silybum Marianum, Linn. (milk-thistle), Tribulus terrestris, Linn. (land-caltrops), and others, some of them in many subspecies. All these plants were very troublesome to the farmer (Prov. xxiv. 31), who frequently set fire to his fields to get rid of them (Isa. x. 17), while the Prophets threatened the people with a plague of briers and thistles (Isa. v. 6; Jer. xii. 13). The tyrant is compared to the useless bramble (Judges ix. 14); and King Amaziah is likened to the thistle (II Kings xiv. 9). Instead of fruit the earth is to bring forth "thorns and thistles" (Gen. iii. 18), which must, therefore, be edible, and which are considered by the Midrash to be artichokes.
Many names for these plants are found in the Bible as well as in post-Biblical literature. Acanthaceous trees and shrubs, some of them admitting of classification, constitute the first group, which includes: , Bible and Mishnah (also Assyrian, Phenician, and Aramaic) = Lycium Europæum, Linn. (not Rhamnus), box-thorn; , Bible, Mishnah, and Aramaic = Rubus sanctus, Schreb., blackberry; = Acacia; , Mishnah, and , Talmud = Cratægus Azarolus, Linn., hawthorn; , Mishnah, and , Talmud = Zizyphus lotus, Lam., jujube, and Zizyphus spina-Christi, Linn., Christ's-thorn; , Mishnah, and , Talmud =Zizyphus vulgaris, Lam., common jujube.
The second group comprises acanthaceous or prickly herbs, shrubs, and nettles: (?), Bible, , Mishnah, and , Talmud (Assyrian, "egu" [?])= Alhagi Maurorum, DC., alhagi; and , Mishnah, and , Talmud = Carthamus tinctorius, Linn., safflower; , Bible, and , Talmud = Centaurea Calcitrapa, Linn., starthistle; (?), Bible, , Mishnah and Talmud = Echinops spinosus, Linn., or Echinops viscosus, DC., echinops (?); = Eryngium Creticum, Lam., button-snakeroot; = Cynara Scolymus, Linn., artichoke; = Cynara Syriaca, Boiss., and Cynara Cardunculus, Linn., cardoon (the heads of which are well described by Rashi in his commentary on Ps. lxxxiii. 14); = Paliurus aculeatus, Linck., garland-thorn; (?), Bible = Phæopappus scoparius, Sieb., phæopappus; = Solanum coagulans, Forsk., nightshade; (?), Bible, and , Talmud = Urtica urens, Linn., nettle.
General terms, some of them applied also to thorns, are , and in the Bible, and , and in the Mishnah and Talmud.