Acanthus mollis

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Acanthus mollis L.


Life form: perennial

Exposure: half shade - Exposure: shade   6

Moisture: moderately moist

Soil: sandy loam - Soil: gritty loam

Arrangement: opposite
Leaves: decidious

Shape: obovate

Division: simple


Shape: labiate
Fruit: loculicidal capsule

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Inflorescence: spike

Petals: single
Habit: not specified

Growth form: stemless



Acanthus mollis is a perennial.


Acanthus mollis was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The name is considered as validly published.


Acanthus mollis is the type species of the genus Acanthus which contains approximately 32 to 41 species and belongs to the family of the Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family).


Acanthus mollis - habitus
Acanthus mollis - leaves
Acanthus mollis - inflorescence


The perennials have a stemless growth and reach heights of 1,2 to 1,5 metres. The plants reach a width of 0.6 to 1 metres.


Acanthus mollis is deciduous. The green, simple leaves are opposite. They are obovate with lobate margins and pinnate venation. The leaves are around 40 to 50 centimetres large and have a glabrous surface. They turn an attractive yellow in autumn.

Flowers and Fruits

Acanthus mollis produces spikes of white labiate flowers from July to August. The plants are hermaphroditic.

The perennials produce ornamental brown loculicidal capsules in summer.

Root System

The plants form rhizomes.


Acanthus mollis is native to France, Croatia, Macedonia, the Iberian Peninsula and the Apennine Peninsula.


The perennials prefer a half-shady to shady situation on moderately moist soil. The substrate should be sandy-loamy or gritty-loamy soil with a pH between 6,5 and 7,5. They tolerate temperatures down to -23°C (USDA zone 6).

Classification after Prof. Dr. Sieber

  • open areas
  • rockeries
  • woodland borders (soil usually rich in humus)
  • woods (soil usually rich in organic material)

Tolerance of special soil conditions

  • none: waterlogging, winter dampness


The recommended planting distance is 80 centimetres, the perennials are best planted in groups of 3 to 5. Suited as groundcover, specimen plant and as cut flowers.

Maintenance and Propagation

The plants need little to no maintenance if grown under suitable conditions.


Pests and Diseases

Distorted, discoloured or dead leaves and flowers are a sign of a bacterial infection. Generously cut out affected parts. Improve hygiene and control insects that may spread the infection.

Leaf blotches are a sign of a fungal or bacterial infection. Bacterial spots are rather angular and yellow-rimmed while fungal spots usually are rather rounded with an area of fruiting bodies. Destroy affected parts, additionaly apply fungizide it is is a fungal infection.

A powdery white coat on the plants indicates an infection with powdery mildew. Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

White tufts or white covering on the lower surface of the leaves indicates an infection with downy mildew. Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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