Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

A. latifolius.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Bear's Breeches
Acanthus mollis

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].

  • Medicinal Use

    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].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

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].
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].
South-western Europe – Portugal to the Balkans. Naturalized in Britain in W. Cornwall[17].

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.