Acanthus (plant)

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Acanthus montanus3.jpg
Acanthus montanus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Acanthaceae
Subfamily: Acanthoideae
Tribe: Acantheae
Genus: Acanthus

See text


Cheilopsis Moq.[1]

Acanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Acanthaceae, native to tropical and warm temperate regions, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Asia. Common names include Acanthus and Bear's breeches. The generic name derives from the Greek term for the Acanthus mollis, ἄκανθος, akanthos, a plant that was commonly imitated in Corinthian capitals.[2][3]

The genus comprises herbaceous perennial plants, rarely subshrubs, with spiny leaves and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers. Size varies from 0.4 to 2 m (1.3 to 6.6 ft) in height.

Selected species[edit]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

An acanthus plant (A. mollis) flowering in the ruins of the Palatine Hill, Rome, May 2005

Several species, especially A. balcanicus, A. spinosus and A. mollis, are grown as ornamental plants.

Acanthus leaves were the aesthetic basis for capitals in the Corinthian order of architecture; see acanthus (ornament).


  1. ^ "Acanthus L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  2. ^ ἄκανθος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project. Harper, Douglas. "acanthus". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  3. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: A-C. CRC Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Species Records of Acanthus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Acanthus". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.