WSU Clark County Extension

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Bear's Breeches

Scientific name: Acanthus mollis

Type:Groundcovers Herbaceus
Plant Requirements
Zone:6 to 10
Sun:Partial shade
Plant Characteristics
Height:5 ft
Width:4 ft
Bloom:Summer flowers
Bloom Time:July to August
Bloom Color:White
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description With its sculptured leaves and bold flower stalks, Bear’s Breeches is a stately addition to the flower bed. As it is often used in artistic paintings, this species may also be known in the trade as Artist’s Acanthus.

Bear's Breeches is an herbaceous groundcover with large shiny dark green leaves. Mature plants can grow to a height of 5’ and equally as wide. The leaves themselves can attain width of up to 3’ with deep undulations. Lobes on the leaves each have a spine, which are not sharp. This species is classified as a groundcover in that any pieces of root cut from the original plant can easily contribute to further plant spread.

In late summer, Bear's Breeches send up tall flower stalks which bear creamy white to slightly pink or purplish flowers.

Generally adaptable to a wide array of sites, but it prefers ones which are slightly moist, highly organic, and acidic. Light to moderate shade is best. In warmer climates, outside of the Pacific Northwest, this plant has been considered invasive.

Slugs may be a problem for plants in the shade.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234