Lord Stanley was the prime favourite as an occupant of this bed of thorns, and it has been said that he was actually offered the crown.
The scrub which covers the low veld consists mainly of gnarled stunted thorns with flattened umbrella shaped crowns, most of the species belonging to the suborder mimoseae.
Them, teaching men to follow his austere and virtuous life, to hate all violence and war, to sacrifice no men or beasts on the altars, but to give mild offerings of bread and flowers and perfumes, and to do penance by the votaries drawing blood with thorns from their own bodies.
Long and severe religious fasts were customary at special seasons, and drawing blood from the arms, legs and body, by thrusting in aloe-thorns, and passing sharp sticks through the tongue, was an habitual act of devotion recalling the similar practices of devotees in India.
The supposition that the tree was the source of Christ's crown of thorns gave rise doubtless to the tradition current among the French peasantry that it utters groans and cries on Good Friday, and probably also to the old popular superstition in Great Britain and Ireland that ill-luck attended the uprooting of hawthorns.