Longest natural thorns or spines

Does anyone know of anything in nature, animal or plant that has an extra long spine or thorn like apendage, need something about twice the density of heavy wood. It would need to be at least 12" long and approx 1/8" in diameter. I can’t find anything even close to that length. It also has to be very straight, could be machined down. Most all of the reeds are too light, bamboo skewers come close but are still light.

Porcupine quills arent quite long enough. Some are a little over 25cm (here)

I’m thinking you might need to use a bit of bone. Maybe a section of cow femur machined down to size.

What’s it for? Does it have to be natural material?

I compete in primitive archery flight shooting. We have to use all natural materials. I am not opposed to pushing the limits on the natural aspect. The spines I am looking for would be used as arrows. The modern bows use tiny solid carbon rods for comparison. If I could come up with a process that conceivably could have been used a few hundred years ago I might even be able to manufacture something. Stiffness is critical. Too stiff I can work around but not stiff enough wont work.

An example of pusing the limits on the rules might be that I found something that I could simply boil to seperate and collect the resines from and then use the resins to saturate a natural material like silk or linen. It might not fly but I would like to see how far we could push the limit on natural.

A number of palm trees produce long, straight, pointed, very stiff spines. The genera Phoenix and Bactris come to mind, but there are others too.

Twelve inches though is pushing it. I don’t know if you could find a specimen with individual spines that long, but it might be worth a look. Google ‘palms with spines’. If you live in Florida or California or other places where such palms grow, just ask local nurserymen and/or landscapers for the locations of potential source trees. If not, you’ll have to find another way.

You could use the barbed tail of a stingray I suppose. They tend to be 12" long and apparently were used in the tropics for arrows per Wikipedia but I can’t find a specific link backing that up.

Since you are thinking of boiling down some resin, perhaps you could fill some porcupine quills with it, since they’re hollow. Maybe add some fine sand if they’re not weighty enough. Might be a job getting the resin to fill the whole thing but it might be something to consider.

How about bamboo, cut to length and cored out with a drill bit? Fill with that sand/resin mixture mentioned above. Lots of room to experiment with there, and probably easier than filling quills with hot liquid resin.

I was going to say this as well, but I’m not sure how you would procure them.

Why would you want to build an arrow that won’t fly? :stuck_out_tongue:

Bad term I used when talking about arrows, I meant it might not fly with the officials.

Ivory - specific gravity 1.842. By comparison the densest wood I can find comes in at 1.355. 12 inches shouldn’t be hard to get either.

Of course it’s a little difficult to get these days, but you may be able to legally acquire walrus or mammoth ivory in your jurisdiction.

Besides the expense the ivory is too brittle. I have used it for arrow nocks before. The thin portions on the ears snap off too easily.

“Tiny”? Is this for a crossbow?

In googling I’m guessing this is what the OP is trying to do.


Actually a pretty interesting article.
Per the article other arrow construction methods in this sport involves time consuming construction of multi laminate bamboo (like a bamboo fly rod) arrows with a very high density wood core inserted. I imagine they are quite expensive.

Those particular arrows you are referencing are about the best flight arrows out there right now. I hold one world record myself using one of his arrows. The tonkin cane he uses is very dense, he actually laminates them together so they are hollow. Very difficult process. His daughter broke an all time record for women this year shooting Allens arrows and a bow I made for her.

Any way to use a honey locust thorn attached to an existing branch? I have these trees on my farm and I can attest to the sharpness of the thorns. Some have multiple thorns (like those in the picture) and others are more of a single thorn. They’re sturdy - they’ll puncture a tractor tire.


Spike thorns on the Crucifixion Thorn Tree? They might only live in Southern California, though.

is there any formal constraint on the levels of technology you are/not allowed to use, and what actually constitutes ‘natural’ materials? Do the materials have to be biological in origin or can you include minerals?

Narwhal tusk. Should be pretty easy to get ahold of a few. They are just lyin’ around!

The Tree of Pain has some pretty long thorns, but that might be stretching the “natural” requirement, as well as the “thing that exists in reality” requirement.