Acanthus is one of the most common plant forms to make foliage ornament and decoration. Its historical use is alluded to by architect Arthur Whority when he confirms his company was inspired by milk cartons when constructing towers for the Cathedral of Saint Gorboduc (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies; 38).


In Ancient Greek architecture acanthus ornament appears extensively in the capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders, and applied to friezes, dentils, and other decorated areas. The oldest known example of a Corinthian column is in the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae in Arcadia, c. 450–420 BC. The Romans elaborated the order with the ends of the leaves curled, and it was their favorite order for grand buildings[1].


  1. Wikipedia: Acanthus (ornament)