Garden Alphabet: Acanthus

This Acanthus has been reappearing and blooming in the front garden since we moved in 16 years ago. The leaves and flower stems dry and die back each Fall but return regularly with our Winter rains. This photo is the basis for the logo of A Gardener’s Notebook podcast and videos.


Acanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Acanthaceae, native to tropical and warm temperate regions, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Asia. Common names include Acanthus and Bear’s breeches. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ακανθος (acanthos), meaning “thorny.”[2]

The genus comprises herbaceous perennial plants, rarely subshrubs, with spiny leaves and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers. Size varies from 0.4 to 2 m (1.3 to 6.6 ft) in height. —

More information on the Acanthus:

Previously in Garden Alphabet: