Open the Advanced Search

Spiny Bearsbreech

Acanthus spinosus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Acanthaceae (Bearsbreech)
Also in this family:
Semi-evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Gardens, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, rocky places, scrub, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Spiny Bearsbreech is known for its striking, architectural flowers. The blossoms are characterized by their tall, spiky inflorescences, which feature hood-like bracts with spiky tips. The individual flowers are tubular and emerge from these bracts, forming a dense, elongated spike. The color of the flowers is typically whitish to pale pink, creating an attractive and ornamental display. The overall appearance of the Spiny Bearsbreech flowers adds a unique and decorative element to the plant, making it a popular choice in gardens and landscapes.
Spiny Bearsbreech does not produce typical fleshy fruits. Instead, it reproduces through seeds. After the flowering period, the plant forms seed capsules that contain the seeds. These capsules are dry and split open when mature, releasing the seeds. The seeds are small and are often dispersed by wind or other external factors. While the plant is valued for its decorative flowers and architectural foliage, its reproductive structures are not as conspicuous as the flowers themselves.
The leaves of Spiny Bearsbreech are large, deeply lobed, and glossy green in colour. Each leaf typically has several sharply toothed segments that give them a distinctive, spiky appearance. The lobes are deeply cut and have spiny tips, contributing to the plant's name. The overall leaf structure is highly ornamental and adds to the plant's architectural quality. The leaves are arranged in a rosette form, creating a bold and attractive foliage display. Additionally, the leaves are often deeply veined, enhancing their aesthetic appeal.
Spiny Bearsbreech is not particularly known for its fragrance. The plant is primarily appreciated for its architectural foliage and striking flowers rather than for any notable scent. Therefore, it is generally considered as an ornamental plant chosen for its visual appeal rather than for any aromatic qualities. If there is any fragrance, it is likely to be subtle and not a prominent feature of the plant.
Other Names:
Armed Bear's Breech, Spiny Acanthus, Spiny Bear's Breeches.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Acanthus spinosus, also known as spiny bear's breech or spiny acanthus, is a species of flowering plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the plantain family and is known for its large, spiny leaves and showy, purple or white flowers. Acanthus spinosus is a perennial plant that grows up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and has a tall, upright stem. The leaves are large and are deeply lobed, with a distinctive, spiny margin. The plant produces showy, purple or white flowers that are shaped like a trumpet and are arranged in spikes. Acanthus spinosus is a popular garden plant and is known for its striking foliage and flowers. It is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Spiny Bear's Breech, also known as Acanthus spinosus, is a striking ornamental plant commonly found in Mediterranean regions and areas with a similar climate. The plant is a deciduous perennial that can grow up to 1.5m tall, producing striking, spiky foliage and delicate, white flowers with purple bracts.

The leaves of Spiny Bear's Breech are the standout feature of the plant. They are large and lobed, with serrated edges and spiny teeth along the margins. The leaves are dark green in color and can reach up to 45 cm in length, making them a bold statement in any garden.

In addition to its attractive foliage, Spiny Bear's Breech is also prized for its fragrant, white flowers that bloom in the summer. The flowers are arranged in a large, spike-like cluster and surrounded by bracts that are a deep purple color, creating a striking contrast with the white flowers.

The plant is easy to grow and care for, and is suitable for planting in a variety of soils as long as they are well-drained. Spiny Bear's Breech prefers full sun to partial shade and needs to be watered regularly to maintain its lush, green foliage. It is also a relatively low-maintenance plant, requiring little pruning or maintenance other than occasional watering and the removal of any dead or damaged foliage.

Spiny Bear's Breech is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of garden styles, from traditional to modern. It makes an excellent focal point in a mixed border or can be used as a statement plant in a large container. Its striking foliage and attractive flowers make it a great addition to any garden, adding height, texture, and interest throughout the growing season.

Spiny Bear's Breech is also known for its medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. The leaves and roots contain compounds that have been shown to have medicinal properties and have been used to treat a range of conditions, from skin conditions like wounds and burns to digestive problems like indigestion and stomach pain.

Another benefit of Spiny Bear's Breech is that it is attractive to wildlife. The plant produces nectar that is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators, making it an important plant for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Additionally, the spiky foliage provides protection for small birds and other wildlife, making it a valuable addition to any wildlife garden.

It is important to note that Spiny Bear's Breech is considered a toxic plant, and all parts of the plant should be handled with care. The spiky foliage can cause skin irritation and the plant's sap can be toxic if ingested, so it is important to take precautions when handling the plant and keep it away from children and pets.

In terms of cultivation, Spiny Bear's Breech is relatively easy to grow from seed or cuttings, and once established, the plant is very hardy and can withstand dry spells and periods of drought. However, it is important to provide the plant with regular water and well-drained soil to ensure that it thrives. Additionally, the plant benefits from an annual feeding of fertilizer in the spring to promote healthy growth and blooming.

It's also worth mentioning that Spiny Bear's Breech has been used in the ornamental arts throughout history. The plant's foliage has been used as a decorative motif in various forms of art, such as architecture, painting, and textiles. The spiky leaves of the plant have inspired intricate carvings and designs, and have been featured in countless works of art throughout the centuries.

In the world of gardening, Spiny Bear's Breech is a popular choice for many landscape designers and gardeners. It's versatility and low-maintenance requirements make it a great choice for many different types of gardens, from large estates to small suburban gardens. Additionally, its ability to attract pollinators and provide shelter for wildlife make it a valuable addition to any garden, whether for its aesthetic appeal or for its environmental benefits.

Spiny Bear's Breech is also a popular choice for cut flower arrangements. The plant's delicate white flowers and striking purple bracts are a beautiful addition to any bouquet, and the leaves can also be used to add texture and interest to arrangements.

In terms of pests and diseases, Spiny Bear's Breech is relatively resistant to most common garden pests and diseases. However, it is important to keep an eye out for any signs of damage and to take action if necessary. Some common problems to watch out for include leaf spot, powdery mildew, and aphid infestations.

In conclusion, Spiny Bear's Breech is a versatile and attractive plant that has much to offer in terms of ornamental appeal, medicinal properties, and environmental benefits. Whether you're looking for a striking statement plant for your garden, a valuable addition to your wildlife garden, or a source of inspiration for your next art project, Spiny Bear's Breech is definitely worth considering.

40 Facts About Spiny Bearsbreech

Here are 40 facts about Spiny Bearsbreech (Acanthus spinosus):

  1. Scientific Name: Acanthus spinosus.
  2. Common Name: Spiny Bearsbreech.
  3. Family: Acanthaceae.
  4. Native Range: Mediterranean region.
  5. Habitat: Well-drained soils, often found on rocky slopes.
  6. Size: Can grow up to 1 to 1.5 meters in height.
  7. Leaves: Large, glossy green, deeply lobed with spiny tips.
  8. Leaf Arrangement: Rosette form.
  9. Flowers: Architectural spikes with tubular, whitish to pale pink flowers.
  10. Blooming Period: Late spring to early summer.
  11. Bracts: Hood-like, with spiky tips.
  12. Fruit: Dry seed capsules that split open when mature.
  13. Reproduction: Primarily through seeds.
  14. Cultivation: Often cultivated for ornamental purposes.
  15. Hardiness: Generally hardy in USDA zones 7-10.
  16. Sun Requirements: Full sun to partial shade.
  17. Soil Preference: Well-draining soil is preferred.
  18. Drought Tolerance: Moderately drought-tolerant once established.
  19. Growth Form: Herbaceous perennial.
  20. Lifespan: Perennial, living for multiple years.
  21. Landscaping Use: Adds architectural interest to gardens and landscapes.
  22. Wildlife Attraction: Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers.
  23. Toxicity: Not known for edibility; potentially toxic if ingested.
  24. Common Pests: Generally resistant to most pests.
  25. Maintenance: Low-maintenance once established.
  26. Propagation: Can be propagated by seed or division.
  27. Cultural Significance: Acanthus leaves are a classical motif in art and architecture.
  28. Famous Motif: The Acanthus leaf motif is seen in Corinthian columns in classical architecture.
  29. Historical Use: Acanthus leaves were used to symbolize longevity in ancient Greek art.
  30. Botanical Illustration: Well-documented in botanical art due to its distinctive features.
  31. Winter Dormancy: May die back in winter and re-emerge in spring.
  32. Watering: Tolerates dry conditions but benefits from regular watering.
  33. Soil pH: Prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil.
  34. Fertilization: Generally not heavy feeders.
  35. Landscape Companion: Often paired with other perennials and shrubs.
  36. Disease Resistance: Generally resistant to common plant diseases.
  37. Foliage Texture: Bold and coarse-textured.
  38. Garden Design: Suitable for both formal and informal garden styles.
  39. Invasive Potential: Not considered invasive in most regions.
  40. Conservation Status: Not typically a species of conservation concern.

These facts provide a comprehensive overview of the characteristics and features of Spiny Bearsbreech.