Acanthus, a flowering plant, in the outdoor Jefferson Market Garden in New York City.
Common names include Acanthus and Bear's breeches. The generic name derives from the Greek term (akanthos) for Acanthus mollis, a plant that was commonly imitated in Corinthian capitals.
The genus comprises herbaceous perennial plants, rarely subshrubs, with spiny leaves and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers. Size varies from 1.3 to 6.6 ft in height.
Acanthus leaves also have many medicinal uses including in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine. Various parts of Acanthus ilicifolius have been used to treat asthma, diabetes, leprosy, hepatitis, snake bites, and rheumatoid arthritis. The leaves of Acanthus ebracteatus, noted for their antioxidant properties.