Game of Thorns, an outdoor exhibition at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, focuses on the art and armaments of botanical warfare. Over millions of years, endless duels between California native plants and their predators have given rise to the incredible thorns we see today. The exhibition features these living fortresses and showcases their weaponry through large-scale macro and microscope photography, gigantic sculptures, immersive exhibits and more. When it comes to war, plants don’t retreat. Rooted to the ground like castles of old, plants have evolved an array of armaments to defend against their mortal enemies. This floral arms race has produced a stockpile of protrusions, from spines as sharp as samurai swords to insidious barbs that resemble whaling harpoons. Perhaps all of us have experienced the unexpected wrath of a plant’s thorns, spines, needles, prickles or barbs. With anatomical names as diverse as the pained noises they can cause, plants have independently evolved these protrusions many times over. Barbed, hooked, serrated and envenomed, microscopic or massive, warningly poised in vivid color or stealthily hidden, the arsenal and qualities of botanical weapons are limitless. Indeed, the botanical battlefield is a Game of Thorns.