Bear's Breeches

August 30, 2015

Bear's Breeches

August 30, 2015
Posted in: Nature | Reading Time: 1 minute

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I have no idea why Acanthus mollis is commonly known as Bear's Breeches. In fact, there is no scholarly agreement on the origin of it's common meaning "bear's breeches." Perhaps if a bear were to wear breeches, they would colorful and soft, like the flowers on this plant.

The Bear's Breeches plant reaches 1-2.5' high with clusters of deeply lobed shiny dark green leaves up to 15 inches long. One stem can produce up to 120 flowers, which are tubular, white, lilac or rose in color. The flowers are very similar looking to the snapdragon. The only insects capable of pollinating it are bees and bumble bees large enough to force their way between the upper sepal and the lower so that they can reach the nectar at the bottom of the tube. Seeds are dispersed by wind. It's an invasive plant, susceptible to mildew attacks from snails, which makes it not suitable for a garden.

Native to the Mediterranean region, it is one of the earliest cultivated species. Historians believe the leaves were the inspiration for the Corinthian order capitals of Greco-Roman architecture.

 

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