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Acanthus mollis - L.

Common Name Bear's Breeches
Family Acanthaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woodland scrub and stony hillsides[45].
Range South-western Europe - Portugal to the Balkans. Naturalized in Britain in W. Cornwall[17].
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Acanthus mollis Bear

Acanthus mollis Bear


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Acanthus mollis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in). It is in flower from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. latifolius.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Meadow;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Detergent  Emollient  Urinary  Vulnerary

The leaves and roots are astringent, detergent, emollient and vulnerary[7, 61, 254]. The plant contains appreciable quantities of mucilage and tannin. Traditionally it was used as a treatment for dislocated joints and for burns. A paste made from the plant, when applied to a dislocated joint, tends to normalize the affected muscles and ligaments, simultaneously relaxing and tightening them to encourage the joint back into its proper place[254]. The crushed leaves have been used as a poultice to soothe burns and scalds[268]. For internal use, the plant's emollient properties are useful in treating irritated mucous membranes within the digestive and urinary tracts[254].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

The sub-species A. mollis latifolia makes a good ground cover plant[208]. Relatively slow to cover the ground at first but it can eventually become invasive[197].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a deep loamy soil in a sheltered position in full sun[1] but tolerates partial shade[31, 111]. Grows well in heavy clay soils if they are well-drained but dislikes heavy damp soils[111] and will not overwinter in wet soils[200]. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant[190]. Hardy to about -15°c[187], though young plants may require protection in the winter[190] and even older ones may need protection in cold winters[111]. A very ornamental plant[1]. The leaves can wilt on hot summer days when plants are grown in full sun[190]. Plants can become invasive[197], spreading by suckers, and they are difficult to eradicate due to their deep roots[190]. Does well in the lawn or wild garden[111]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut in the autumn[233]. Members of this genus are not usually browsed by deer[233].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame[133, 200] or outside as soon as the seed is ripe[133]. It usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 10°c[133]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for two years before planting out in late spring or early summer[200, K]. Division in spring or autumn[111, 200]. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions. Root cuttings - winter in a coldframe[111, 200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: Syria EUROPE: Croatia, Italy (incl. Sardinia, Sicily), Malta, Spain (incl. Baleares), France (incl. Corsica) AFRICA: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Amaranthus diacanthus Annual0.0 -  LMHNM201
Baphicacanthus cusia Perennial0.6 -  LMHSNM021

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

   Tue Dec 28 01:00:07 2004

This plant is found in Malta/Europe

Comprehensive details, uses, botanical data, and photogallery of high resolutions photos can be see on an interesting website about the wild plants of Malta: www.maltawildplants.com

Link: Malta Wild Plants Website about the wild plants of Malta

Tony Boreham   Fri Jul 13 2007

A fascinating large space filler, with very attractive flower spikes. Not unlike a large Lupin in appearance

Pete   Wed Jan 30 2008

Very odd plant....Very lollish but good in sun lol

lea   Fri Dec 12 2008

how do you kill it, it has taken over the back yard

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Subject : Acanthus mollis  
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