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Acanthus mollis L.

Bear’s breech

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyAcanthaceaeAcanthus family, of tropical herbs and shrubs
GenusAcanthusMeans "thorny"
SpeciesmollisMeans “smooth,” for the leaves

About plant names...

Bear’s Breech is native to the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea on the north, west, and south.

Identification: This plant reaches 6' (1.8 m) in height. It has dark, shiny, deeply divided leaves, as much as 3' (91 cm) long and 12" (30 cm) wide. The leaf shape is the most distinctive characteristic of this species. The flowers are lilac-colored or white, on long stalks which grow far above the leaf clusters.

Acanthus mollis (bear’s breech)

Photo by Eugene Zelenko, from the Villa Montalvo Botanical Garden in Saratoga, CA, cropped to emphasize leaf shape.

Acanthus mollis (bear’s breech)

Photo by Marc Ryckaert.

Online References:

Acanthus mollis at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Acanthus mollis on Wikipedia

Acanthus mollis on Wikimedia Commons

Acanthus mollis on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Acanthus mollis on Discover Life


Acanthus mollis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 27 Sep 2020.

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Acanthus mollis (bear’s breech)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, Cali­fornia
≈ 6 × 4' (1.8 × 1.2 m)


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