THE “CHASTE TREE”
[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 12, August, 1888, p. 498]
Will you tell me the botanical name of the “Agnus Castus” plant, also what authority there is for supposing Christ was crowned with Acanthus, and if so are any of that family indigenous to Syria?
Paliurus australis (Christ’s Thorn) is spoken of by Loudon as the probable plant, of the order Rhamni. He adds, Hasselquist thought it was a kind of Rhamnus (Buckthorn), called by Linnaeus “Spina Christi.” The latter I have received from Syria, where it is common, and bears a small yellow berry.
W. N. GALE.
EDITOR’S NOTE.—Loudon describes the Agnus Castus as “a species of Vitex—the chaste tree,” from a willow-like tree. This Greek term being similar to the word , “chaste,” it was surnamed the “chaste tree.” We do not know of any “authority” except probability that it was the Acanthus which was used for the “crown of thorns,” as it is a genus of herbaceous prickly plant, with thorns protruding from it, most common in Palestine and Asia Minor, though as common in India. It was used there and also in Syria and elsewhere as belonging to the paraphernalia of initiation during the MYSTERIES.