Acanthus spinosus

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Acanthus spinosus
A. spinosus, San Francisco Botanical Garden
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Acanthus
A. spinosus
Binomial name
Acanthus spinosus

Acanthus spinosus, the spiny bear's breech,[1] is a species of flowering plant in the family Acanthaceae, native to southern Europe, from Italy to western Turkey. It is an herbaceous perennial growing to 150 cm (59 in) tall by 60–90 cm (24–35 in) wide. The deeply cut leaves have spiny margins, and in early summer it bears erect, 1 m (3 ft) long racemes of white flowers with maroon bracts.[2]

It is thought that both A. spinosus and its close relative A. mollis were introduced to Britain as ornamental and herbal plants from the Mediterranean in Roman times.[3] It has been intermittently cultivated ever since, and is now a regular feature of the herbaceous border.[4] For centuries, stone or bronze stylized versions of acanthus leaves have appeared as decoration on certain styles of architecture and furniture.


  1. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  3. ^ How to grow: Acanthus – Telegraph
  4. ^ BBC – Gardening: Plant Finder – Bear's breeches