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Acanthus


The Jo-Anna Plant Encyclopedia:  Acanthus

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ACANTHUS OLLIS, BEAR'S BREECHES, OYSTER PLANT

My first experience of Acanthus was on a wet weekend sat at my mum's kitchen.  There was only what I can describe as a mini exploding noise and seconds later a seed fell in front of me on the table.  Mum had dried the flowers she had cut from the garden in the summer and placed them in a stoneware jar.  They have this incredible natural way of re-producing themselves.  The pods explode and the seed is jettisoned into the garden.  So clever; nature never fails to amaze me!




National Flower of Greece...

ACANTHUS OLLIS, BEAR'S BREECHES, OYSTER PLANT

The National Flower of Greece, much like their temples, this plant is tall and towering and will give a big show at the back of your modern perennial or cottage garden border.  The leaves where often used in Greek and Roman Art.  If you will probably have seen the leaves carved and/or engraved into buildings; most notably the most important ones.   



Flowering and Foliage...


The variety Acanthus Mollis has has giant glossy leaves and statuesque flowers which are white with outer lids in a rose purple colour. Flowering is normally June to August but this is dependent on the climate.  The leaves alone can grow to 90cm (approx 3 feet) long and have a lustrous high glossy shine. 






Planting, Positioning & Suitability...

Thrives in full sun and well drained soil.  Can be placed in partial shade but may not produce as many flower spikes. They look amazing on the sunny edge of woodland. They are also  fairly drought tolerant but in really hot weather it is recommended to keep them moist.  Do not water the leaves during the day as the sun will scorch them.  Either water at the root or first thing in the morning/last thing at night when the sun is not hot.  It is happy situated in an exposed or sheltered position.





Mature Height, Spread and Characteristics...

Reaching an average height of 100cm it has been known to reach a massive 180cm at maturity.  This plant will spread as wide as they grow high so give them plenty of room in the bed and plant towards the back.  Do not plant precious perennials too close to it as they will in time become swamped by its monstrous leaves.  The flowers are neither male or female; they are hermaphrodite which means that they have both male and female organs.  





Other interesting facts...

THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDE FOR INFORMATIVE PURPOSES ONLY AND WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT USE THIS PLANT EDIBLY OR MEDICINALLY.

Acanthus are not edible but are known for their medicinal properties.  The leaves have been used as an astringent, emollient (creams with moisturising properties to treat conditions such as psoriasis or eczema), and were made into poultices for burns and scalds.  They also have properties which tighten and relax ligaments and muscles at the same time.  The plant turned into a paste was added to dislocated joints using bandages; resulting in them moving back into place.


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