Acanthus (plant)

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Acanthus montanus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: 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. This flowering plant is nectar producing and is susceptible to predation by butterflies, such as Anartia fatima, and other nectar feeding organisms. Common names include Acanthus and bear's breeches. The generic name derives from the Greek term ἄκανθος (akanthos) for Acanthus mollis, 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 (A. mollis) flowering in the ruins of the Palatine Hill, Rome, May 2005

Acanthus leaves were the aesthetic basis for capitals in the Corinthian order of architecture; see acanthus (ornament). Several species, especially A. balcanicus, A. spinosus and A. mollis, are grown as ornamental plants.

Acanthus leaves also have many medicinal uses. Acanthus ilicifolius, whose chemical composition has been heavily researched, is widely used in ethnopharmaceutical applications, including in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine.[8] Various parts of Acanthus ilicifolius have been used to treat asthma, diabetes, leprosy, hepatitis, snake bites, and rheumatoid arthritis.[9] The leaves of Acanthus ebracteatus, noted for their antioxidant properties, are used for making Thai herbal tea in Thailand and Indonesia.[10]


  1. ^ "Acanthus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  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. ^ Snogerup, S.; Snogerup, B.; Strid, A. (2006). "Acanthus greuterianus (Acanthaceae), a New Species from NW Greece". Willdenowia. 36 (1): 323–7. doi:10.3372/wi.36.36127. JSTOR 3997705. S2CID 85054771.
  5. ^ "Acanthus greuterianus Snogerup, B.Snogerup & Strid – The Plant List". Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  6. ^ "Acanthus syriacus Boiss". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  7. ^ "African Plant Database". Les conservatoire et jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève (Conservatories and Botanic Gardens of the City of Geneva). Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  8. ^ Wostmann, R; Leibezeit, G (2008). "Chemical composition of the mangrove holly Acanthus ilicifolius (Acanthaceae)—review and additional data". Senckenbergiana Maritima. 38: 31–37. doi:10.1007/BF03043866. S2CID 38592501.
  9. ^ Bandaranayake, W. M. (1998). "Traditional and medicinal uses of mangroves". Mangroves and Salt Marshes. 2 (3): 133–148. doi:10.1023/A:1009988607044. S2CID 129317332.
  10. ^ Chan, E. W.; Eng, S. Y.; Tan, Y. P.; Wong, Z. C.; Lye, P. Y.; Tan, L. N. (2012). "Antioxidant and Sensory Properties of Thai Herbal Teas with Emphasis on Thunbergia laurifolia Lindl". Chiang Mai Journal of Science. 39 (4): 599–609.

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