Herb: Bear's Breeches

Latin name: Acanthus mollis

Synonyms: Acanthus latifolius

Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family)

Medicinal use of Bear's Breeches:

The leaves and roots are astringent, detergent, emollient and vulnerary. The plant contains appreciable quantities of mucilage and tannin. Traditionally it was used as a treatment for dislocated joints and for burns. A paste made from the plant, when applied to a dislocated joint, tends to normalize the affected muscles and ligaments, simultaneously relaxing and tightening them to encourage the joint back into its proper place. The crushed leaves have been used as a poultice to soothe burns and scalds. For internal use, the plant's emollient properties are useful in treating irritated mucous membranes within the digestive and urinary tracts.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Woodland scrub and stony hillsides.

Other uses of Bear's Breeches:

The sub-species A. mollis latifolia makes a good ground cover plant. Relatively slow to cover the ground at first but it can eventually become invasive.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame or outside as soon as the seed is ripe. It usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 10C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for two years before planting out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions. Root cuttings - winter in a coldframe.

Cultivation of Bear's Breeches:

Woodland scrub and stony hillsides.

Known hazards of Acanthus mollis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.