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A picture of a Bear's Breeches

Bear's Breeches

Acanthus mollis

Also known as

Brank Ursine, Common Bear's Breech, Soft-Leaved Bear's Breech, Wilde Rabarber (Afr.), Artist's Acanthus, Oak-Leaf Bear's-Breeches, Sea-Dock

Acanthaceae - Acanthus mollis (2) by Hectonichus (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Light watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








2 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Bear's Breeches

A white Acanthus mollis flower on a plant in a garden
A close up of Acanthus mollis flowers
A close up of a Acanthus mollis flower in a garden
Acanthus mollis plant in a garden

Bear's Breeches Overview

Acanthus mollis is known for its bold clumps of shiny green leaves, topped with striking spires of elegant flowers which are clasped by showy purple bracts. Also known as bear's breeches, this plant is a great addition to any temperate garden. Great for adding an eye-catching structural element to a partially shaded border, it also makes a good ground cover species in a Mediterranean or cottage garden setting. This striking ornamental plant has traditional medicinal applications, historically it was used for burns and dislocated joints. This plant is great for bringing flair, grace and bees into your garden!

Common problems with Bear's Breeches

Diseases include fungal and bacterial leaf spot.

How to harvest Bear's Breeches

To harvest flowers, cut the flower at the height of bloom and hang upside down in a cool, dark place to dry. If dried correctly they will hold their colour well and will last about a year before browning. Harvest seeds in late winter.

How to propagate Bear's Breeches


Sow seeds in spring. Germinates in 3 - 4 weeks.


Take root cuttings in late autumn or early winter and keep moist.


Usually propagated from tubers and tends to form large, localized clumps which can survive for several decades. Divide clumps in autumn or spring.

Special features of Bear's Breeches

Attractive flowers

Attractive showy purple and white blooms.

Attracts bees

Popular with pollinating insects such as bees, these are large enough to push into the structural flowers.

Attracts useful insects

Attracts useful pollinating insects such as bees and bumble bees.

Drought resistant

It is tolerant of drought once established.

Other uses of Bear's Breeches

This low maintenance flower is often grown for cut flowers and for providing structure to beds and borders. Once established it is drought resistant and suits Mediterranean and gravel gardens


Traditionally used in medicinal applications; historically it was used for burns and dislocated joints.

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