The acanthus is a typical plant from the Mediterranean region that, due to the high plasticity of the contour of the leaf, has always been a source of inspiration for artists and architects. This is the case of an old legend, collected by Vitruvius (1st century BC) in his Ten Books on Architecture, which tells the origin of the Corinthian capitals that crown the columns of many classical temples. It tells here how the mother of a girl from Corinth, who died of an illness, collected some objects she loved and put them in a wicker basket which she put on her grave. Over time, the acanthus, oppressed by the weight, spread all around its leaves and small stems grew around the basket, leaving the sides to the outside to form a curved or curls at the ends. Callimachus, the renowned Greek sculptor, passing in front of the grave, observed the basket and the delicacy of the leaves that grew around it. He was pleasantly surprised by the originality of the form of the leaves and rose Corinthian columns following this model. The Corinthian capital was reinterpreted afterwards in a more abstract and schematic way through medieval cultures that lived in the Iberian Peninsula after the Roman domination, i.e. Visigoths, Arabs, Mudejars. We can see some examples of these capitals in the Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro.
The acanthus plant can be found in many spots of the Alcázar, especially as ground cover in the Renaissance and the poets gardens. In April they reach their peak when it begins to sprout its unique and spectacular flower that can reach 2 meters.