Acanthus mollis L. is a perennial herb that can grow to a height of 0.9-1 m. It is a popular ornamental plant well-known for its large (30-60 cm), dark glossy leaves that served as a model for foliage decoration in Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine architecture (Robertson, 1969). The leaves are opposite, oblong with deeply pinnate toothed lobes, and the lower leaves are borne on large (up to 50 cm long) petioles. The stems are coarse, simple, cylindrical, upright and erect. The spike-like terminal inflorescence, which can be as high as the plant, bears large (3.5-5 cm long) flowers with whitish, purple-veined corollas. The fruits are dehiscent, glabrous capsules that contain 2-4 large ovoid seeds (Ecocrop, 2014; Ecoport, 2014; GISD, 2014; PFAF, 2014; Coste, 1899-1906).
Acanthus mollis is mainly cultivated in gardens. However, it contains mucilage and tannins and is used in ethnomedicine (PFAF, 2014). It is generally not browsed by game and is rarely used as fodder (PFAF, 2014; Göhl, 1982), although, in Sicily, it has been fed to goats and cows with good results. In Italy, a series of experiments (1951-1961) reported extremely high nutritive values much superior to those of alfalfa and red clover. Its cultivation as a fodder species was proposed to increase the number of available forage varieties on Mediterranean farms (Tiberio, 1961).