Genus Acanthus

These perennials grow wild in the grasslands, woods, scrub and rocky hills of the Balkans, Romania, Greece, eastern Mediterranean, and Africa. These plants, known as Bear's Breeches, need winter protection if grown in the North. They form lush clumps of shiny, dark green, lance-shaped leaves, which are deeply lobed. The leaves of A. spinosus are strewn with spines. The funnel shaped flowers grow in spikes from 2 to 5 feet long, in the summer. The flowers of A. hungaricus are white or pale pink, encased in spiny reddish-purple bracts. It spreads up to 3 feet and grows 2 to 3 feet high. A. spinosus has white flowers wrapped in pretty, spiny, mauve-purple bracts. The flower spikes may be air-dried for decoration. This plant grows up to 4 feet high and has a spread of 2 feet or more. It is a handsome plant that needs a lot of room. The foliage is attractive enough even when they aren't in bloom to place in a corner where they can be seen easily. POTTING: Bear's Breeches should be grown in full sun in light, well-drained soil. Heavy soil should be corrected by incorporating leaf mold or compost and sand. They don't transplant well because they are slow to become established. In mild climates they spread readily, therefore take care that they don't become a nuisance.


They may be increased by seed or division in the fall or spring, or by root cuttings in the winter.

A. longifolius A. mollis


  • A. longifolius;
  • A. mollis;
  • A. spinosus;
  • A. montanus
  • A. balcanicus.