Saturday, April 10, 2010


Genus of perennial shrubs native to the Old World, especially the warmer Mediterranean areas. The plants, which grow to a height of 3 or 4 ft., bear tightly clustered white, rose, or purplish flowers, atop a long spike. The large leaves of some species of Acanthus are separated into many lobes, whose irregular edges bear stiff spines. Certain species, however, have lobed leaves with nonspiny, serrated edges. Of particular interest is A. spinosus, one of the spiny species, whose leaves, slightly curled under at their ends, are said to have inspired the Greeks with the design for the capital of the Corinthian column. Later, the Romans elaborated on this idea and used designs from the leaves of A. mollis, a nonspiny species.

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