Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Acanthus mollis L.

Fully hardy, clump-forming perennial with obovate, deeply-lobed, dark green leaves, and 1m long racemes of white flowers with purple-shaded bracts in summer.  To 1.5m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Botanically described by Linnaeus in 1753 [Sp.Pl. vol.2/1753].

Introduced to Britain in 1548.  [JD].  ‘Bear’s Breech, or Brank Ursin.  AcanthusBranca Ursina.  The stalks grow to be two foot high, the leaves are a shining dark green colour; the flowers are white.  It is said that the ancients took the pattern of their foliage work from the leaves of this plant.  It is cultivated here in gardens; its native place being Italy, Spain, and the southern part of France; it flowers in July.  This plant is used in glisters and baths for obstructions: and for the stone and gravel.  The herb women sell the leaves of the Helleboraster, or Bear’s foot, or Sphondylium, or Cow-parsnip, instead of this plant, to those that are ignorant.’  [Blackwell pl.89/1737].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.17/1857].  Present in the gardens today. Naturalised in all eastern states of Australia.


Acanthus mollis Graf & Noë ex Nees (1847) = Acanthus longifolius Poir.

Acanthus mollis Riedel ex Nees (1847) = Acanthus spinosus L.

Published Feb 15, 2009 - 01:29 PM | Last updated Apr 21, 2011 - 12:34 PM

The image shows thistle-like leaves and the white flowers, together with a brown and red moth.  Blackwell pl.89, 1737.

Acanthus mollis L. | blackwell pl.89/1737 | BHL

Family Acanthaceae
Region of origin

Southern Europe, North Africa

Common Name

Bear’s breeches

Name in the Camden Park Record

Aecanthus mollis 

Confidence level high