Acanthus hungaricus
Common Name: bear's breeches 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Europe
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Rose-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Other: Winter Interest


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates wide range of soils except poorly-drained ones. Appreciates some afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as St. Louis. Not reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5 where a winter mulch is advisable. Easily grown from seed or may be propagated by root cuttings best taken in early spring. Can spread aggressively by creeping rootstocks, particularly in loose soils. Can be slow to establish in the garden, but somewhat difficult to eradicate once established since small sections of root left behind can sprout new plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acanthus hungaricus is an erect, clump-forming perennial which features pale pink to white flowers enclosed in spiny, reddish-purple bracts and arranged in vertical rows on substantial flower spikes rising well above the foliage to 3-4' tall. Blooms in late spring to early summer. Deeply lobed glossy green leaves (2-3' long) form an ornamental mound which usually remains attractive throughout the growing season.

Synonymous with and sometime sold as Acanthus balcanicus.

Genus name comes from the Greek word akantha meaning spine in reference to the toothed edges on leaves in some species.

Specific epithet indicates the plant is native to Hungary.

There appears to be no scholarly agreement among authorities on the origin and meaning of the common name of bear’s breeches.


Susceptible to powdery mildew. Snails and slugs are occasional visitors that can do substantial damage if left unchecked. Plants can spread aggressively in optimum conditions.