Aconitum napellus

Aconitum napellus

name = "Aconitum napellus"

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Plant in flower, Austria
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Ranunculales
familia = Ranunculaceae
genus = "Aconitum"
species = "A. napellus"
binomial = "Aconitum napellus"
binomial_authority = L.

"Aconitum napellus" (Monkshood, "aconite", "Wolf's Bane", "Fuzi", "Monk's Blood", or "Monk's Hood") is a species of "Aconitum" in the family Ranunculaceae, native and endemic to western and central Europe.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1 m tall, with hairless stems and leaves. The leaves are rounded, 5-10 cm diameter, palmately divided into five to seven deeply lobed segments. The flowers are dark purple to bluish-purple, narrow oblong helmet-shaped, 1-2 cm tall.

Nine subspecies are accepted by the "Flora Europaea":
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "napellus". Southwest England.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "corsicum" (Gáyer) W.Seitz. Corsica.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "firmum" (Rchb.) Gáyer. Central and eastern Europe.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "fissurae" (Nyár.) W.Seitz. Balkans to southwest Russia.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "hians" (Rchb.) Gáyer. Central Europe.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "lusitanicum" Rouy. Southwest Europe.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "superbum" (Fritsch) W.Seitz. Western Balkans.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "tauricum" (Wulfen) Gáyer. Eastern Alps, southern Carpathians.
*"Aconitum napellus" subsp. "vulgare" (DC.) Rouy & Foucaud. Alps, Pyrenees, northern Spain.

Plants native to Asia and North America formerly listed as "A. napellus" are now regarded as separate species.

Plants are grown in gardens in temperate zones for their spike-like inflorescences that are showy in early-mid summer and their attractive foliage. There are white and rose colored forms in cultivation too.


"Aconitum nepellus" is grown in gardens for its attractive spike like inflorescences and showy blue flowers. [Datta, Subhash Chandra. 1988. "Systematic botany." New Delhi: Wiley Eastern Ltd.] It is a cut flower crop used for fresh cutting material and sometimes used as dried material. The species has a low natural propagation rate under cultivation and is propagated by seed or by removing offsets which are generated each year from the rootstock's and the use of micropropagation protocols have been studied. [ A. A. Watad, M. Kochba, A. Nissim and V. Gaba "Improvement of Aconitum napellus micropropagation by liquid culture on floating membrane rafts"Journal Plant Cell ReportsPublisher Springer Berlin / HeidelbergISSN 0721-7714 (Print) 1432-203X (Online)Issue Volume 14, Number 6 / March, 1995DOI 10.1007/BF00238594Pages 345-348] This species has been crossed with other Aconitums to produce attractive hybrids for garden use, including "Aconitum x cammarum" [Armitage, A. M. 2000. "Armitage's garden perennials a color encyclopedia". Portland, Or: Timber Press. Pages 19-20.] Like other species in the genus, "A. napellus" contains several poisonous compounds, including enough cardiac poison that it was used on spears and arrows for hunting and battle in ancient times. [J Ethnopharmacol. 1981 Nov;4(3):247-336. "Arrow poisons in China. Part II. Aconitum--botany, chemistry, and pharmacology".Bisset NG.] "A. napellus" has a long history of use as a poison, with cases going back thousands of years. [Toxicology in the Old Testament: Did the High Priest Alcimus Die of Acute Aconitine Poisoning?Authors: Moog F.P.1; Karenberg A.1Source: Adverse Drug Reactions & Toxicological Reviews (now known as Toxicological Reviews), Volume 21, Number 3, 2002 , pp. 151-156(6) Publisher: Adis International] During the ancient Roman period of European history the plant was often used to eliminate criminals and enemies, and by the end of the period it was banned and any one growing "A. napellus" could have been legally sentenced to death. [Roberts, M. F., and Michael Wink. 1998. "Alkaloids biochemistry, ecology, and medicinal applications". New York: Plenum Press. Page 18.] Aconites have been used more recently in murder plots; they contain the Chemical alkaloids aconitine, mesaconitine, hypaconitine and jesaconitine, which are highly toxic. [ [ CSA ] ]

Aconite produced from the roots of a number of different species of "Aconitum" is used ethnomedically in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), to treat "coldness", general debility, and "Yang deficiency." Such use has been shown in some cases to negatively affect the cardiovascular and central nervous systems including documented instances of poisoning and death. [Fatovich, D M "Aconite: a lethal Chinese herb". Citation:Ann-Emerg-Med. 1992 Mar; 21(3): 309-11] [ Vet Hum Toxicol. 1994 Oct;36(5):452-5.Links "Aconitine poisoning due to Chinese herbal medicines: a review". Chan TY, Tomlinson B, Tse LK, Chan JC, Chan WW, Critchley JA] ["Severe Acute Poisoning with Homemade Aconitum napellus Capsules: Toxicokinetic and Clinical Data" Authors: Fabienne Moritz a; Patricia Compagnon b; Isabelle Guery Kaliszczak a; Yann Kaliszczak c; Valérie Caliskan a; Christophe Girault d DOI: 10.1080/15563650500357594 Clinical Toxicology, Volume 43, Issue 7 December 2005 , pages 873 - 876 ]


* [ Flora Europaea: "Aconitum napellus"]

External links

* [ Aconite, "Aconitum napellus"] - Resource for aconitum napellus seed & information

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  • Aconitum napellus — ID 1096 Symbol Key ACNA Common Name Venus chariot Family Ranunculaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution CT, ME, MI, MN, NH, NY, PA, VT, WI Growth Habit Forb/herb …   USDA Plant Characteristics

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  • Aconitum napellus L. — Symbol ACNA Common Name Venus chariot Botanical Family Ranunculaceae …   Scientific plant list

  • Aconitum napellus — noun a poisonous herb native to northern Europe having hooded blue purple flowers; the dried leaves and roots yield aconite • Syn: ↑monkshood, ↑helmetflower, ↑helmet flower • Hypernyms: ↑aconite …   Useful english dictionary