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Scientific Name
Common Names
Family
Origin
Naturalised Distribution
Notes
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Bear's breeches
Acanthus mollis

Scientific Name

Acanthus mollis L.

Common Names

artist's acanthus, bear's breech, bear's breeches, false orchid, Grecian pattern plant, oak leaf acanthus, oyster plant, sea dock, sea holly

Family

Acanthaceae

Origin

Native to north-western Africa (i.e. Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), the Canary Islands, southern Europe (i.e. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta and Yugoslavia) and western Asia (i.e. Syria and Turkey).

Naturalised Distribution

Naturalised in many parts of southern Australia, especially near heavily populated areas, but not very common. It has been recorded in some parts of central New South Wales (i.e. in the Central Coast and Central Tablelands regions), in southern Victoria, in Tasmania and in south-eastern South Australia. Recently recorded as sparingly naturalised in south-eastern Queensland and possibly naturalised in south-western Western Australia.

Also naturalised in New Zealand and south-western USA (i.e. California).

Notes

Bear's breeches (Acanthus mollis) is regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria, where it is seen as a potential threat to one or more vegetation formations. This species has escaped from cultivation as a garden ornamental and amenity plant and most naturalised populations grow near existing plants or where garden waste has been dumped. While it is still promoted by some local authorities in Victoria as a landscaping plant, other councils now list it as a potential environmental weed that is not to be used in landscape works (e.g. Knox City, Yarra City and the Shire of Yarra Ranges).

Bear's breeches (Acanthus mollis) is also emerging as a potential environmental weed in other states too. In South Australia it has been recorded growing in conservation areas (i.e. in Scott Creek Conservation Park and Black Hill Conservation Park). In New South Wales it has recently been found growing in sclerophyll forest in the Blue Mountains. This species has also been collected a couple of times in south-western Western Australia (i.e. from Perth and Denmark), including one specimen from a conservation reserve near the Margaret River.



amenity planting (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


habit with large elongated flower clusters (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


deeply-divided leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


close-up of leaf blade (Photo: Trevor James)


flower buds and floral bracts (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


flowers (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


close-up of stem and flower (Photo: Greg Jordan)


close-up of immature fruit (Photo: Trevor James)


mature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


seedling (Photo: Sheldon Navie)


spiny bear's breeches (Acanthus spinosus), a similar ornamental species, with more deeply-divided leaves and spiny margins (Photo: Sheldon Navie)