Bear’s Breeches(Acanthus mollis – L.)

Botanical Name:Acanthus mollis – L.
Family : Acanthaceae
Synonyms: Acanthus latifolius – Hort. ex Goeze.
Common Name :Bear’s Breeches,
Genus: Acanthus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Acanthaceae
Species: A. mollis

Habitat : South-western Europe – Portugal to the Balkans. Naturalized in Britain in W. Cornwall.  Woodland scrub and stony hillsides.Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Meadow;

Description:
It is a herbaceous perennial plant .It grows to 2 m tall, with basal clusters of deeply lobed and cut, shining dark green leaves up to 1 m long and 20 cm broad. The flowers are tubular, whitish, lilac or rose with spiny green or purplish bracts, and produced on stout spikes which grow up to 2.5 m (8 ft) above the leaves. It flowers in late spring or early summer. It grows in dry areas, and is tolerant of drought and shade. The plants are propagated from tubers and tend to form large, localized clumps which can survive for several decades. The leaves of this plant are generally considered by historians[who?] to have been the design inspiration for the Corinthian column capitals of Roman architecture.
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It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

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

Propagation:-
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame or outside as soon as the seed is ripe. It usually germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 10°c. 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. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions. Root cuttings – winter in a coldframe

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Medicinal Actions & Uses:

Astringent; Detergent; Emollient; Vulnerary.
The leaves and roots are astringent, detergent, emollient and vulnerary. 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. The crushed leaves have been used as a poultice to soothe burns and scalds. For internal use, the plant’s emollient properties are useful in treating irritated mucous membranes within the digestive and urinary tracts.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein ,  is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:-
Ground cover.

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


Source:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Acanthus+mollis
http://www.floradecanarias.com/acanthus_mollis.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acanthus_mollis

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