Acanthus, or bear's breeches, is an attractive, hardy ornamental perennial plant that grows to around a metre high. It has big, glossy dark green leaves and a tall flower spike. It often dies down during the drier months. It is extremely hardy and will tolerate heavy frost and heavy drought. It has thick roots, and if you try and dig the plant up it will regrow from any broken roots that are left behind. This makes it very easy to grow new plants from root cuttings or by breaking up a clump.
African daisies are very hardy plants originally from South Africa, with rich green leaves and purple or white flowers. They grow to about 40cm high, and will spread to form a groundcover. They tolerate both frost and drought, but do not like being in soil that is too damp. They are easy to grow from both seeds and cuttings.
This plant is regarded as a weed in parts of Australia.
The agapanthus, or Lily of the Nile, is a plant originally from Africa. It is very hardy, and has bundles of blue or white flowers on the end of stalks. They can withstand both frost and drought, but are much happier in warmer weather with more regular watering.
Algae are a large group of very primitive plants. Algae usually grow in the water, and the algae most people are familiar with is the green slime that grows on the inside of fish tanks.
Algae can range in size from that familiar green slime right through to what is commonly called seaweed. Most algae grows in the water, but it can also be found on land too.
Some algae grow with other organisms. Lichen is algae and fungi growing together. Some corals and sea sponges have algae growing inside them to provide them with oxygen and sugars.
Aloe vera is a type of succulent plant, suited to arid regions. The plant is supposed to have many medicinal properties, and you often see aloe vera added to tissues - the aloe are supposed to stop your nose getting red if you have a cold and blow your nose a lot. Aloe vera is meant to be very good for your skin, and it helps burns heal faster.
Alyssum is a small, annual plant that grows to about 20cm high. It is sometimes known as sweet alyssum or sweet Alison. It flowers for most of the year, and makes a pretty ground cover. It has bundles of tiny flowers in shades of white, purple and pink. Alyssum copes well with heat, drought and frost and is a very hardy cottage garden plant.
Amaranths are a large group of plants that include some fast-growing weeds. Some varieties of amaranth, particularly the grain amaranth, grow a large crop of highly-nutritious seeds, and are sometimes referred to as the 'crop of the future'.
Some species of amaranth have edible leaves and can be cooked or eaten raw as a salad vegetable.