Bear’s Breeches

Scientific Name: Acanthus mollis

Fact Box:

  • Order: Lamiales
  • Family: Acanthaceae
  • Genus: Acanthus
  • Species: A. mollis


Native to the Mediterranean region, bear’s breeches features sophisticated flowering stalks and equally impressive foliage. Each white blossom comes with a regal purple bract above it and a spiky one underneath, and these flower stalks can grow to be several feet high.

The large, sleek green leaves are also not to be underestimated. In fact, the foliage carved at the top of Corinthian columns are thought to have been modeled after Acanthus leaves. However, bear’s breeches can become invasive in some cases and spread aggressively due to their taproots that are difficult to get rid of.


Bear’s breeches has many healing properties. It can be made into a paste to treat dislocated joints, crushed to heal wounds and burns, and even consumed to help with digestive problems.


The genus name, Acanthus, is from the Greek word akantha, which means “spine” or “thorn,” a nod towards the leaves and spiky bracts on the flower stalks. Bear’s breeches is also the national flower of Greece, as it symbolizes immortality.