acanthus

acanthine /euh kan"thin, -thuyn/, adj.
/euh kan"theuhs/, n., pl. acanthuses, acanthi /-thuy/.
1. any of several plants of the genus Acanthus, of the Mediterranean region, having spiny or toothed leaves and showy, white or purplish flowers. Cf. acanthus family.
2. an architectural ornament, as in the Corinthian capital, resembling the leaves of this plant.
[1610-20; < NL, L < Gk ákanthos bear's-foot]

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Any of the more than 2,500 plant species that make up the family Acanthaceae, of the figwort order.

Acanthus are found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. Most are herbaceous plants or shrubs that grow in tropical rainforests; some are climbers (vines) or trees. Acanthus have simple leaves arranged in opposite pairs on the twigs and enlarged cells called cystoliths in streaks or protuberances in the vegetative parts. The bisexual flowers are bilaterally symmetrical and usually crowded together in clusters. Individual flowers are enclosed by leaflike bracts, which are often coloured and large. Acanthus are mainly of horticultural interest and include some ornamentals.

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▪ ornamental motif
  in architecture and decorative arts, a stylized ornamental motif based on a characteristic Mediterranean plant with jagged leaves, Acanthus spinosus. It was first used by the Greeks in the 5th century BC on temple roof ornaments, on wall friezes, and on the capital of the Corinthian column. One of the best examples of its use in the Corinthian order is the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. Later the Romans used the motif in their Composite order, in which the capital of the column is a three-dimensional combination of spirals resembling rams' horns and full-bodied acanthus leaves. The acanthus leaf has been a popular motif in carved furniture decoration since the Renaissance. (See also order.)

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Acanthus — (plural: acanthus , rarely acanthuses (English) or acanthi (Latin), or feminine form acantha) is the Latinized form of the Greek Acanthos or Akanthos. It can also be used as the prefix Acantho , meaning thorny . It may refer to:Botany* Acanthus… …   Wikipedia

  • Acanthus — L. (Bärenklau), Gattung der Akanthazeen, hohe Kräuter oder Sträucher mit meist großen, buchtig ausgerandeten und mehr oder weniger stachelig gezahnten Blättern und ansehnlichen, in endständige Ähren gestellten Blüten mit großen und stachelig… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Acanthus — A*can thus, n.; pl. E. {Acanthuses}, L. {Acanthi}. [L., from Gr. ?. Cf. {Acantha}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) A genus of herbaceous prickly plants, found in the south of Europe, Asia Minor, and India; bear s breech. [1913 Webster] 2. (Arch.) An… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • acanthus — [ə kan′thəs] n. pl. acanthuses or acanthi [ə kan′thī΄, ə kan′thē΄] [ModL < L < Gr akanthos: see ACANTHO ] 1. any of a genus (Acanthus) of thistlelike plants of the acanthus family with lobed, often spiny leaves and long spikes of white or… …   English World dictionary

  • acanthus — (n.) 1660s, from L. acanthus, from Gk. akanthos, from ake point, thorn (see ACRID (Cf. acrid)) + anthos flower (see ANTHER (Cf. anther)). So called for its large spiny leaves. A conventionalized form of the leaf is used in Corinthian capitals …   Etymology dictionary

  • acanthus — ► NOUN 1) a plant or shrub with bold flower spikes and spiny decorative leaves. 2) Architecture a representation of an acanthus leaf. ORIGIN Greek akanthos, from akantha thorn …   English terms dictionary

  • Acanthus — (A. L.), Pflanzengattung aus der natürl. Familie der Acanthaceae Acantheae, Didynamic, Angiospermi L.; Kelch vierblätterig, das obere helmartig, das untere zweispaltig; Blumenkrone einlippig, dreispaltig; die unteren Staubfäden Sförmig; die… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Acanthus — L., Bärenklau, Pflanzengattg. der Akanthazeen; A. mollis L. [Abb.] und A. spinōsus L., stattliche staudenartige Pflanzen (Mittelmeergegenden), schon bei den alten Griechen und Römern Zierpflanzen; ihre großen buchtig fiederspaltigen Blätter… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Acanthus — Acanthus. Bärenklau (Dydynamia Angiospermia. Acanthaceae.) A. mollis u. spinosus sind die zwei bekanntesten Arten, welche als ausdauernde Rabattenpflanzen gezogen werden, und ihre röthlichweißen zweilippigen Blumen im Sommer öffnen. Von dem A.… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Acanthus — • A titular see of Macedonia, on the Strymonic Gulf, now known as Erisso • An ornamental plant indigenous to middle Europe Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Acanthus —   Acanthus …   Wikipedia Español

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