Bear's Breeches
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Bear's Breeches
P Introduced Unknown Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Bear's Breeches, Sea dock, Bearsfoot, Oyster plant
Botanical name: Acanthus mollis    Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus family)
Synonyms: Acanthus niger, Acanthus latifolius, Acanthus longifolius

Bear's Breeches is a perennial herb with reaches on average 30-80 cm in height, with a maximum of 1.8 m, inflorescence included. It has basal clusters of deeply lobed and cut, shiny dark green leaves, soft to the touch, up to 40 cm long and 25 cm broad, with a long leaf-stalk. The inflorescence is a cylindrical spike 30-40 cm long and can produce up to 120 flowers. The flowers are tubular, whitish, and lilac or rose in color. Each flower is up to 5 cm long and it is surrounded by three green or purplish bracts. The central bract is spiny and larger than the other two. The sepal tube has two lips: the upper is purple on top, rather long and forms a kind of "helmet" on top of the flower. The flower is reduced to a white lower lip, trilobed, with purple-pink venation. The four stamens are fused to the flower and look like tiny brushes. Bear's Breeches is native to the Mediterranean region from Portugal and northwest Africa east to Croatia and it is one of the earliest cultivated species.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.

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