T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Acanthus mollis (Bear's breeches)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Acanthus
Species: A. mollis
Binomial name: Acanthus mollis
Common name: Bear's breeches, Bears foot., Oyster plant, bear’s foot plant, 

Acanthus mollis a native to the Mediterranean North Africa area. It is an herbaceous perennial growing in clumps 120 cm height, with thick roots and large, glossy, strongly lobed, dark green leaves (up to 50 x 30 cm) on long leaf stalks (10-50 cm) growing from the root crown, or on shorter stalks (2-5 cm) growing from the vertical flowering stem. Numerous partly tubular flowers with one white petal and a large purple ‘hood’, with purple or brownish veins, are held at the top of the stem in a spike, with lower flowers maturing first (October to April). Many dark brown, flattened oval seeds (to 1 cm long) are produced in individual capsules (3-4 cm long) from November to May. Seed spread via gravity, water and animals, and the plant can also spread vegetatively from root fragments.
Its impact on environment is that it can form dense infestations under forest canopy and in dry, sandy conditions, suppressing regeneration of other species.