Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bear's Breeches

While I was weeding my back yard today I noticed my Bear's Breeches are blooming right now.  I love the spiky bloom with it's dusty purple and green color.  As a former bear biologist I had to do a little research about the name.  I found a nice article on JSTOR from Garden History, Vol. 24, No. 1, Summer 1996, titled "The Tortuous Tale of 'Bear's Breech' the Puzzling Name for Acanthus mollis."  The article gives a very in depth theory that essentially says the name came from it's medieval name, "branca ursina."  They hypothesized that the bracts look like bear's claws - hence "ursina" and that "branca" morphed into breech over time.  Whatever the case, I think the name quite cute and the flower is lovely.

I also found out that it can be invasive in areas.  Although mine has gotten bigger over the years, it doesn't spread too much.  And I love that I don't have to water it - it even survived last year's drought.  Apparently it is recommended for xeriscaping because of that quality.   Another perk is that you can dry these for flower arrangements! I haven't tried it yet but will definitely post later if that works out.

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