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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  
Medicinal Rating  
Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


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 Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Synonyms A. latifolius.
Acanthus mollis Bear

Acanthus mollis Bear
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Meadow;
Edible Uses                                         
None known
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;  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].
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].
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].
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].
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[31]Brown. Shade Plants for Garden and Woodland.
[45]Polunin. O. Flowers of Greece and the Balkans.
A good pocket flora, it also lists quite a few plant uses.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[111]Sanders. T. W. Popular Hardy Perennials.
A fairly wide range of perennial plants that can be grown in Britain and how to grow them.
[133]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[190]Chatto. B. The Dry Garden.
A good list of drought resistant plants with details on how to grow them.
[197]Royal Horticultural Society. Ground Cover Plants.
A handy little booklet from the R.H.S.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[268]Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism
Excellent herbal with good concise information on over 400 herbs.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
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

Elizabeth H.
Tony Boreham Fri Jul 13 2007
A fascinating large space filler, with very attractive flower spikes. Not unlike a large Lupin in appearance
Elizabeth H.
Pete Wed Jan 30 2008
Very odd plant....Very lollish but good in sun lol
Elizabeth H.
lea Fri Dec 12 2008
how do you kill it, it has taken over the back yard
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