Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bear's Breeches
Acanthus hungaricus

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acanthus (a-KANTH-us) (Info)
Species: hungaricus (hun-GAR-ee-kus) (Info)

Synonym:Acanthus balcanicus
Synonym:Acanthus longifolius

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

18 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

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5 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Jetlagged40 On May 20, 2012, Jetlagged40 from Raleigh, NC wrote:

Growing as a volunteer from my neighbor. Located under a high-pruned southern magnolia! Flanked by plum yews. Have two acanthus mollis also under the magnolia. I did plant those, but the hungaricus had the wisdom to locate itself perfectly in the layout!

Positive lazepherine On Jun 26, 2007, lazepherine from Seattle, WA wrote:

Seattle, WA
zone 8

The bear's breeches I have is acanthus mollis and it's done wonderfully well in a less than ideal spot for years now. It's planted in an alley bed which gets a couple hours of sun in the morning, and often gets really dry in the summer months. BUT- the acanthus blooms every year, and has doubled in size each year since I've planted it. This is a gorgeous architectural plant; if you'd like a little drama in a difficult spot in your garden it's a great candidate. Can't wait till fall so I can do some dividing.
I wonder if there are some varieties of acanthus that are less invasive, like the golden leaved type? It would be worth checking out for those who live in areas where this is a problem. Does anyone have info on this?

Positive MitchF On Nov 12, 2005, MitchF from Lindsay, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Does great here with some shade!

Neutral glenn7 On Jun 25, 2005, glenn7 from Dayton, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

In June '04, saw this plant in a test bed at Spring Hill Nursery, Tipp City, OH. Found it again in same spot on 6/24/05. Two Spring Hill staff didn't know what it was; a more knowledgeable staffer was to call me back. But found on Dave's Garden using PlantFiles advanced search. Very unusual looking plant. They really need to add mention of its spikes--hidden under the individual hooded flowers--to the Danger search category. Tried plucking a bloom to take back to the staff, and almost got speared. The foiliage is lush and shiny. Looks like a fancy thistle, so can see how it might become invasive. Gonna try to obtain one for my garden bed and see what happens.

Neutral smiln32 On Nov 17, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Flowers are rosy-purple and can reach to 48". This plant grows in sunny to partly shady conditions. It is a very low-maintenance plant. Easily grown in average, medium wet, well-drained soil. Can be invasive in certain conditions.

Positive lmelling On Nov 11, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have several small Bear's Breeches here in zone 5, that have been given to me over the past two years, and which florish under the protection of my white pines. Even a very young seedling that I thought had died last winter emerged this summer - late but strong and appears quite healthy. Mine have yet to flower, being quite small, but had no problem living over last winter when we had extended periods of -25 to -20 temperatures. The only mulch was from the needle drop from the white pines.

I have seen locally several nice clumps of these at neighbors - again living under the canopy of pines. A friend cuts her flowers for me to dry for arrangements. Although quite prickly - you have to handle them with care. They make unusual and lovely flowers in dried arrangements. Air dry upside down. Flowers tend to appear here later than in warmer zones - more like late July to early August.

Positive Ladyfern On Aug 4, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Slow-growing and stately. The flowers are very interesting. It's doing fine under the maple tree where most other perennials languish. Take root cuttings in late autumn or early winter to propagate.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Wilmington, Delaware
Boise, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois
Greenup, Illinois
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Dracut, Massachusetts
Lexington, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Ithaca, New York
Schenectady, New York
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Dayton, Ohio
Austin, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Donna, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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