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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Acanthus mollis, Weed control, Invasive plants

I am wondering how invasive bear's breeches is? I have heard it can be invasive in the Northwest. Will I be battling roots or suckers constantly? Can it take over any plants near it?


Acanthus mollis, or Bear's breeches, is not listed as noxious in King County, Washington State, or on the federal list of noxious plants. This is not the same as saying it isn't potentially aggressive, although I've never heard about it being a serious problem here. It is considered invasive in parts of Australia, though.

The Plants for a Future database offers the following information on this plant and its growing habits:
"Plants can become invasive, spreading by suckers, and they are difficult to eradicate due to their deep roots."

According to the Pacific Northwest site, Rainyside Gardeners, it is sometimes difficult to get this plant to bloom. A Washington State University Extension site says that Acanthus mollis is potentially invasive in climates warmer than ours.
"This species is classified as a groundcover in that any pieces of root cut from the original plant can easily contribute to further plant spread."

If you want to grow it but are concerned about it spreading, you could try containing the roots with an 8-inch root barrier (similar to what is used to keep running bamboo in check). On the other hand, if you have this plant and decide that you wish to be rid of it, the book Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California Gardens by Pam Peirce and David Goldberg (Sasquatch Books, 2004) says that removing every bit of root over two or three seasons of growth should get rid of the plant. If you cannot eradicate it by continually digging up each new shoot, you may have some luck using a flame weeder (with due caution and appropriate protection). Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides describes how to use this tool.

Date 2017-12-08
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May 31 2018 13:14:08