Acanthus mollis, commonly known as bears breaches is a rather stately jungly looking herbaceous perennial plant from the Mediterranean, widespread from Portugal as far as Croatia growing on roadsides, grassland and disturbed land. For us it is valuable for its large mostly evergreen leaves which are deep glossy green deeply lobed with a serrated edge up to 40- 50cm long. In summer tall robust architectural flower spikes are produced with masses of parrot bill like white to pale purple coloured flowers.
I like it for it’s ease of growth, rapidly becoming an impressive specimen often reaching 120-150cm high, tolerance of most soils and lush jungly foliage. Hardy and happy in most situations just take one word of warning Acanthus mollis is easy to propagate from root cuttings which for us here at Big Plant Nursery is great but if you dig too deeply or try to move your Acanthus you may well end up spreading it around the garden as every piece of broken root will sprout into a new plant. A good thing you might say and well yes it may be but be warned a happy Acanthus mollis is a big plant and needs space.
Acanthus was much loved by Victorian cabinet makers and fabric designers, the attractive leaves and flower inflorescence being carved or printed in floral patterns.