SPINY BEAR'S-BREECH(ES)

Acanthus spinosus

Bearsbreech Family [Acanthaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8beetroot
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ1
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round

6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
A tall and sturdy single-stem plant with amazing display of flowers nearly all the way up the stem.


6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are in whorled tetruplets, arranged at right-angles to each other around the stem, all the way up the stem.


6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
The flower comprises, unusually, of just a single flat(ish) petal hanging as a lip above a curved and covering purple or beetroot-coloured bract.


6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
The stem is green and purple.


6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
Purple coloured cowl covers a single white petal looking like a lip. There are some serpentine innards.


6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
Each flower also has a (largely hidden in most cases) lower bract [which has spiny upwardly directed teeth] beneath the single white petal. There are also two spur bracts between the jaws, helping to hide the inner parts of the flower.


27th Aug 2010, Warton, Carnforth, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Very sharp spines on lower lip.


27th Aug 2010, Warton, Carnforth, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The four stamens look like very hairy doorstep boot-cleaning brushes within the upper bract and are fused to the corolla.


6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Rhyl, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
The pinnate leaves are large, glossy green, with broad angular teeth.


4th Oct 2011, Marple Locks, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The large green fruit with long brown stigma protruding from the tip nestles within the spiny bracts.


4th Oct 2011, Marple Locks, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The fruit is shiny green ovoid capsule containing 2 or 4 large black seeds. The surface is slightly roughened with very short hairs.


Some similarities to : Thistle Broomrape, in that it is tall and purplish, but there the resemblance ends.

Family resemblance to : Bear's-Breech(es), but that has leaves without spiny teeth on the lobes.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics : There is no other quite like this.

No relation to : Bearberry [a plant with similar name]

A tall plant to 1 metre. There seems some confusion over its' common name, variously called Bearsbreech, Bearsbreeches, Bear's Breech, or Bear's Breeches. Perhaps this confusion arises because it belongs to the Bearsbreech Family, of which there is but one member (at least in the UK).

You are more likely to find this growing in or near a garden than growing wild, although it spreads readily by way of its large localised clump of tubers and fertile seeds which are dispersed by the wind.

The genus name Acanthus comes from the Greek ακανθα meaning 'thorn', which it has in abundance on the bracts, whilst the spinosus refers to the spinyness of the leaves. The thorny spines on the bracts are stiff and sharp enough to pierce and scratch skin.


  Acanthus spinosus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Acanthaceae  

Distribution
 family8Bearsbreach family8Acanthaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Acanthus
Acanthus
(Bear's-breeches)

SPINY BEAR'S-BREECH(ES)

Acanthus spinosus

Bearsbreech Family [Acanthaceae]  

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