acanthus - Acanthus (Gr. alcantha, prickle); acanthus - Genus of herbs with bold, handsome foliage. The large leaves proceed from the root-stock, and are cut up into numerous lobes, with their edges bearing sharp teeth or stiff spines. The irregular flowers have a single ]ip, and are borne in tall spikes. They are mostly natives of S. Europe, the best known being Acanthus mollis, with soft teeth, and A. spinosus (bear's breech), with stiff prickles. Both species are frequently cultivated as foliage plants. Acanthus spinosus is said to have furnished the Greeks with the idea for the capital of the Corinthian column, an idea elaborated in Roman art and architecture more on the lines of the richer and more ornamental Acanthus mollis.