Named after the genus Acanthus (Bear's breeches) of which Acanthus mollis is the best known and has been used as the aesthetic basis for capitals in the Corinthian order of architecture. Acanthus was the greek term for Acanthus mollis.
From the Greek aspharagos, the name given to the edible Asparagus. A wide-spread genus which is greatly in need of revision. The root-system is an important character in the grouping, but owing to the inadequacy of the existing descriptions and the imperfection of the type specimens, correct identification is often very difficult. The flowering seasons seem to depend very largely on habitat. Some of the spiny species are called Wag-’n-bietjie.
Unusual among South African plants in the name being derived from the vernacular Dutch, "baviaantjie", Afrikaans "bobbejaantjie" or its Cape corruption "babiaantjie". The baboon, bobbejaan, is partial to the corms.