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plants belonging to the family Ranunculaceae.

These herbaceous perennial plants


are chiefly native to the mountainous parts of the northern hemisphere,[3] growi
ng in the moisture-retentive but well-draining soils of mountain meadows. Most s
pecies are extremely poisonous[4] and must be dealt with carefully.
Contents
1 Description
2 Ecology
3 Uses
4 Cultivation
5 Toxicology
6 Medicinal use
7 Etymology
8 In literature
8.1 As a poison
8.2 Wolf's bane
8.3 In mysticism
9 Gallery
10 Taxonomy
10.1 Species
10.2 Natural hybrids
11 References
12 External links
Description[edit]
The dark green leaves of Aconitum species lack stipules. They are palmate or dee
ply palmately lobed with 5 7 segments. Each segment again is 3-lobed with coarse s
harp teeth. The leaves have a spiral (alternate) arrangement. The lower leaves h
ave long petioles.
Dissected flower of Aconitum vulparia, showing the nectaries
The tall, erect stem is crowned by racemes of large blue, purple, white, yellow
or pink zygomorphic flowers with numerous stamens. They are distinguishable by h
aving one of the five petaloid sepals (the posterior one), called the galea, in
the form of a cylindrical helmet; hence the English name monkshood.[3] There are
2 10 petals. The two upper petals are large and are placed under the hood of the
calyx and are supported on long stalks. They have a hollow spur at their apex, c
ontaining the nectar. The other petals are small and scale-like or non-forming.
The 3 5 carpels are partially fused at the base.
The fruit is an aggregate of follicles, a follicle being a dry many-seeded struc
ture.
Ecology[edit]
Aconitum species have been recorded as food plant of the caterpillars of several
moths. The Yellow Tiger Moth Arctia flavia, and the Purple-shaded Gem Euchalcia
variabilis are at home on A. vulparia.[5] The Engrailed Ectropis crepuscularia,
Yellow-tail Euproctis similis, Mouse Moth Amphipyra tragopoginis, Pease Blossom
Periphanes delphinii, and Mniotype bathensis, have been observed feeding on A.
napellus. The Purple-lined Sallow Pyrrhia exprimens, and Blepharita amica were f
ound eating from A. septentrionale. The Dot Moth Melanchra persicariae occurs bo
th on A. septentrionale and A. intermedium. The Golden Plusia Polychrysia moneta
is hosted by A. vulparia, A. napellus, A. septentrionale and A. intermedium. Ot
her moths associated with Aconitum species include the Wormwood Pug Eupithecia a
bsinthiata, Satyr Pug E. satyrata, Aterpia charpentierana and A. corticana.[6] I
t is also the primary food source for the Old World bumblebee Bombus consobrinus
.[7][8]
Uses[edit]
The roots of Aconitum ferox supply the Nepalese poison called bikh, bish, or nab
ee. It contains large quantities of the alkaloid pseudaconitine, which is a dead
ly poison. Aconitum palmatum yields another of the bikh poisons. The root of Aco
nitum luridum, of the Himalaya, is said to be as poisonous as that of A. ferox o
r A. napellus.[3]
Several species of Aconitum have been used as arrow poisons. The Minaro in Ladak
h use A. napellus on their arrows to hunt ibex, while the Ainu in Japan used a s
pecies of Aconitum to hunt bear.[9] The Chinese also used Aconitum poisons both
for hunting[10] and for warfare.[11] Aconitum poisons were used by the Aleuts of
Alaska's Aleutian Islands for hunting whales. Usually, one man in a kayak armed
with a poison-tipped lance would hunt the whale, paralyzing it with the poison
and causing it to drown.[12]
Cultivation[edit]
Several species of Aconitum are cultivated in gardens, having either blue or yel
low flowers. They thrive in garden soils, and will grow in the shade of trees. T
hey are easily propagated by divisions of the root or by seeds; care should be t
aken not to leave pieces of the root where livestock might be poisoned.[3] The h
ybrid cultivar A. cammarum 'Bicolor' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society'
s Award of Garden Merit.[13]
Toxicology[edit]
See also: Aconitine
Monkshood, Aconitum napellus
Marked symptoms may appear almost immediately, usually not later than one hour,
and "with large doses death is almost instantaneous." Death usually occurs withi
n two to six hours in fatal poisoning (20 to 40 mL of tincture may prove fatal).
[14] The initial signs are gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diar
rhea. This is followed by a sensation of burning, tingling, and numbness in the
mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen.[3] In severe poisonings pronounce
d motor weakness occurs and cutaneous sensations of tingling and numbness spread
to the limbs. Cardiovascular features include hypotension, sinus bradycardia, a
nd ventricular arrhythmias. Other features may include sweating, dizziness, diff
iculty in breathing, headache, and confusion. The main causes of death are ventr
icular arrhythmias and asystole, paralysis of the heart or of the respiratory ce
nter.[14][15] The only post-mortem signs are those of asphyxia.[3]
Treatment of poisoning is mainly supportive. All patients require close monitori
ng of blood pressure and cardiac rhythm. Gastrointestinal decontamination with a
ctivated charcoal can be used if given within one hour of ingestion.[16] The maj
or physiological antidote is atropine, which is used to treat bradycardia. Other
drugs used for ventricular arrhythmia include lidocaine, amiodarone, bretylium,
flecainide, procainamide, and mexiletine. Cardiopulmonary bypass is used if sym
ptoms are refractory to treatment with these drugs.[15] Successful use of charco
al hemoperfusion has been claimed in patients with severe aconitine poisoning.[1
7]
Poisoning may also occur following picking the leaves without wearing gloves; th
e aconitine toxin is absorbed easily through the skin. In this event, there will
be no gastrointestinal effects. Tingling will start at the point of absorption
and extend up the arm to the shoulder, after which the heart will start to be af
fected. The tingling will be followed by unpleasant numbness. Treatment is simil
ar to poisoning caused by oral ingestion.[citation needed]
Aconitine is a potent neurotoxin that opens tetrodotoxin sensitive sodium channe
ls. It increases influx of sodium through these channels and delays repolarizati
on, thus increasing excitability and promoting ventricular dysrhythmias.
Canadian actor Andre Noble died during a camping trip on July 30, 2004 after the
accidental consumption of aconite from monkshood.[18]
In January 2009, the British 'Curry Killer' Lakhvir Singh, killed her lover Lakh
vinder Cheema with a curry dish laced with Indian Aconite. On 11 February 2010 s
he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 23 years for the mu
rder.[19]
Nathan Greenway, a gardener at Mill Court House in Hampshire, England, died of m
ultiple organ failure on 7 September 2014. At the inquest following his death,
it was speculated that his fatal condition may have been caused by him brushing
against the plant, although an open verdict was recorded.[20] When he was first
taken to hospital, doctors thought he was suffering from ebola.[20]
Medicinal use[edit]
Plant as used in Chinese-style herbology (in Japanese) (crude medicine)
Aconite has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda (Hindu t
raditional medicine). Aconite was also described in Greek and Roman medicine by
Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and Pliny the Elder, who most likely prescribed the A
lpine species Aconitum lycoctonum.[citation needed]
Etymology[edit]
Northern Blue Monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense)
The name aconitum comes from the Greek ?????t??, which may derive from the Greek
akon for dart or javelin, the tips of which were poisoned with the substance, o
r from akonae, because of the rocky ground on which the plant was thought to gro
w.[21] The Greek name lycotonum, which translates literally to wolf's bane, is t
hought to indicate the use of its juice to poison arrows or baits used to kill w
olves.[22]
In literature[edit]
As a poison[edit]
Aconite has been understood as a poison from ancient times, and is frequently re
presented as such in fiction. In Greek mythology, the goddess Hecate is said to
have invented aconite,[23] which Athena used to transform Arachne into a spider.
[24] Also, Medea attempted to poison Theseus with a cup of wine poisoned with wo
lfsbane.[25] The kyogen (traditional Japanese comedy) play Busu (???, "Dried aco
nite root"),[26] which is well-known and frequently taught in Japan, is centered
around dried aconite root used for traditional Chinese medicine. Taken from Sha
sekishu, a thirteenth-century anthology collected by Muju, the story describes s
ervants who decide that the dried aconite root is really sugar, and suffer unple
asant though non-lethal symptoms after eating it.[27] Shakespeare, in Henry IV P
art II Act 4 Scene 4 refers to aconite, alongside rash gunpowder, working as str
ongly as the "venom of suggestion" to break up close relationships.
As a well-known poison from ancient times, aconite is well-suited for historical
fiction. It is the poison used by a murderer in the third of the Cadfael Chroni
cles, Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters, published in 1980 and set in 1138 in Shrewsbu
ry. In I, Claudius, Livia, wife of Augustus, was portrayed discussing the merits
, antidotes and use of aconite with a poisoner. It also makes a showing in alter
nate history novels and historical fantasy, such as S. M. Stirling's, "On the Oc
eans of Eternity", where a renegade warlord is poisoned with aconite laced food
by his own chief of internal security, and in the television show Merlin the lea
d character Merlin, attempts to poison Arthur with aconite while under a spell.
In the 2003 Korean television series Dae Jang Geum, set in the 15th-16th century
, Choi put wolfsbane in the previous Queen's food.
Aconite also lends itself to use as a fictional poison in modern settings. An ov
erdose of aconite was the method in which Rudolph Bloom, father of Leopold Bloom
in James Joyce's Ulysses, committed suicide. In the television series Midsomer
Murders, season 4, episode 1 ("Garden of Death"), aconite is used as a murder we
apon, mixed into fettucine with pesto to mask the taste.[28] In the Australian d
etective series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, series 1, episode 5 ("Raisins an
d Almonds"), the ground root of wolfsbane is used as a murder weapon. In Rizzoli
and Isles Season 1 Episode 3 "Sympathy For The Devil" Maura Isles discovered a
teenage boy named Matisse killed by monkshood mixed into a water bottle. In the
2014 season of NCIS:LA, assistant director, Owen Granger, and members of his sta
ff are poisoned with "monkshood" by a mole within the agency. In the TV series D
exter (Season 7), the character Hannah McKay uses aconite to poison some of her
victims.
In Episode 9 of the TV Series American Horror Story: Coven, the resurrected Myrt
le Snow poisons former fellow Witches council members with monkshood laced melon
balls. This was portrayed as paralyzing them while she gouges out their eyes (on
e from each) with a melon baller.
In the manga and anime series, Katekyo Hitman Reborn, one of the main antagonist
s, Torikabuto, is named after the more specific Japanese name (?????) for this p
lant.
Wolf's bane[edit]
In Metamorphoses, Ovid tells how the herb comes from the slavering mouth of Cerb
erus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of Hell.[29] As the veterinary
historian John Blaisdell has noted, symptoms of aconite poisoning in humans bea
r some passing similarity to those of rabies: frothy saliva, impaired vision, ve
rtigo, and finally a coma. Thus, it is possible that some ancient Greeks would h
ave believed that this poison, mythically born of Cerberus's lips, was literally
the same as that to be found inside the mouth of a rabid dog.[30]
In the 1931 classic horror film, "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula
and Helen Chandler as Mina Seward, reference is made in regards to wolfsbane (a
conitum). Towards the end of the film, "Van Helsing holds up a sprig of wolfsban
e". Van Helsing educates the nurse protecting Mina from Count Dracula to place s
prigs of wolfbane around Mina's neck for protection. Furthermore, he instructs t
hat wolfsbane is a plant that grows in central Europe. There the natives use it
to protect themselves against vampires. As long as the wolfsbane is present in M
ina's bedroom, she will be safe from Count Dracula. During the night, Count Drac
ula desires to visit Mina. He appears outside her window in the form of a flying
bat. He causes the nurse to become drowsy and when she awakes from his spell, s
he removes the sprigs of wolfsbane placing it in a hallway chest of drawers. Wit
h the removal of the wolfsbane from Mina's room, Count Dracula mysteriously appe
ars and transports Mina to the dungeon of the castle.[31]
The 1941 film The Wolf Man and its remake suggest people can become werewolves w
hen Wolfsbane blooms.
Wolfsbane is used in the 2000 Canadian horror film Ginger Snaps and its sequel a
s a cure for Lycanthropy. It is later revealed that it does not cure the infecti
on, merely delaying its effects.
Wolfsbane in the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels is a plant that can be us
ed as an ingredient in the Wolfsbane potion, a potion werewolves use to maintain
their rationality and conscience when transformed into a wolf. Additionally Sev
erus Snape lectures Harry Potter when they first meet in the first novel, Harry
Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that "As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they ar
e the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite."
In The Vampire Diaries, wolfsbane is the counterpart of vervain, which affects v
ampires, to debilitate werewolves and hybrids.
In the MTV series Teen Wolf, wolfsbane plays a prominent, reoccurring role, alth
ough portrayed a lot less poisonous to humans.
In the NBC series Grimm, wolfsbane is rubbed on the person's skin to prevent a B
lutbad (a wolf-like Wesen, or creature that a Grimm can differentiate from norma
l human beings) from detecting their scent.
In Wolfblood, season 1 episode 8, Shannon Kelly gives Maddy Smith a pill of acon
ite, wolfsbane, which makes Maddy's eyes turn yellow, her veins go black and she
has an intense craving for meat.
In Our Lady of the Flowers, the boy Culafroy eats "Napel aconite" so that the "R
enaissance would take possession of the child through the mouth."[32]
In the Monster Hunters International book series by Larry Correia it is used to
mask one's scent from werewolves.
In the video game The Witcher 3, Wolfsbane is used along with Fool's Parsley to
make a blade oil effective against werewolves.
In Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, it is hinted that Reverend Lowe might h
ave become a werewolf after picking up some flowers on a cemetery, which could h
ave been Wolfsbane.
In mysticism[edit]
Wolf's bane is used as an analogy for the power of divine communion in Liber 65
1:13 16, one of Aleister Crowley's Holy Books of Thelema.
Wolfsbane is mentioned in one verse of Lady Gwen Thompson's 1974 poem "Rede of t
he Wiccae", a long version of the Wiccan Rede: "Widdershins go when Moon doth wa
ne, An the werewolves howl by the dread wolfsbane."
Gallery[edit]
Aconitum napellus
Trailing White Monkshood (Aconitum reclinatum)

Southern Blue Monkshood (Aconitum uncinatum)

Wild Alaskan Monkshood leaf. The Alaskan Monkshood (Aconitum delphinifolium) is


a flowering species that belongs to the family Ranunculaceae. The picture was ta
ken in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Taxonomy[edit]
Subgenera of Aconitum and related taxa
Genetic analysis suggests that Aconitum as it was delineated before the 21st cen
tury is nested within Delphinium sensu lato, that also includes Aconitella, Cons
olida, Delphinium staphisagria, D. requini and D. pictum.[1] Further genetic ana
lysis has shown that the only species of the subgenus "Aconitum (Gymnaconitum)",
"A. gymnandrum", is sister to the group that consists of Delphinium (Delphinium
), Delphinium (Delphinastrum), and "Consolida" plus "Aconitella". In order to ma
ke Aconitum monophyletic, "A. gymnandrum" has now been reassigned to a new genus
, Gymnaconitum. In order to make Delphinium monophyletic, the new genus Staphisa
gria was erected containing S. staphisagria, S. requini and S. pictum.[33]
Species[edit]
Aconitum ajanense
Aconitum albo-violaceum
Aconitum altaicum
Aconitum ambiguum
Aconitum angusticassidatum
Aconitum anthora (Yellow Monkshood)
Aconitum anthoroideum
Aconitum album
Aconitum axilliflorum
Aconitum baburinii
Aconitum baicalense
Aconitum barbatum
Aconitum besserianum
Aconitum biflorum
Aconitum bucovinense
Aconitum burnatii
Aconitum carmichaelii (Carmichael's Monkshood)
Aconitum charkeviczii
Aconitum chasmanthum
Aconitum chinense: Siebold.&Zucc.[34] aka Aconitum carmichaelii var. truppelianu
m
Aconitum cochleare
Aconitum columbianum (Western Monkshood)
Aconitum confertiflorum
Aconitum consanguineum
Aconitum coreanum
Aconitum crassifolium
Aconitum cymbulatum
Aconitum czekanovskyi
Aconitum decipiens
Aconitum degenii (syn. A. variegatum ssp. paniculatum)
Aconitum delphinifolium (Larkspurleaf Monkshood)
Aconitum desoulavyi
Aconitum ferox (Indian Aconite)
Aconitum firmum
Aconitum fischeri (Fischer Monkshood)
Aconitum flerovii
Aconitum gigas
Aconitum gracile (synonym of A. variegatum ssp. variegatum)
Aconitum helenae
Aconitum hemsleyanum (Climbing Monkshood)
Aconitum henryi (Sparks Variety Monkshood)
Aconitum hosteanum
Aconitum infectum: Arizona Monkshood
Aconitum jacquinii (synonym of A. anthora)
Aconitum jaluense
Aconitum jenisseense
Aconitum karafutense
Aconitum karakolicum
Aconitum kirinense
Aconitum koreanum
Aconitum krylovii
Aconitum kunasilense
Aconitum kurilense
Aconitum kusnezoffii: Kusnezoff Monkshood
Aconitum kuzenevae
Aconitum lamarckii
Aconitum lasiostomum
Aconitum leucostomum
Aconitum longiracemosum
Aconitum lycoctonum
Aconitum macrorhynchum
Aconitum maximum (Kamchatka Aconite)
Aconitum miyabei
Aconitum moldavicum
Aconitum montibaicalense
Aconitum nanum
Aconitum napellus (Monkshood; type species)
Aconitum nasutum
Aconitum nemorum
Aconitum neosachalinense
Aconitum noveboracense (Northern Blue Monkshood)
Aconitum ochotense
Aconitum orientale
Aconitum paniculatum
Aconitum paradoxum
Aconitum pascoi
Aconitum pavlovae
Aconitum pilipes
Aconitum plicatum
Aconitum podolicum
Aconitum productum
Aconitum pseudokusnezowii
Aconitum puchonroenicum
Aconitum raddeanum
Aconitum ranunculoides
Aconitum reclinatum (Trailing White Monkshood)
Aconitum rogoviczii
Aconitum romanicum
Aconitum rotundifolium
Aconitum rubicundum
Aconitum sachalinense
Aconitum sajanense
Aconitum saxatile
Aconitum sczukinii
Aconitum septentrionale
Aconitum seravschanicum
Aconitum sichotense
Aconitum smirnovii
Aconitum soongaricum
Aconitum stoloniferum
Aconitum stubendorffii
Aconitum subalpinum
Aconitum subglandulosum
Aconitum subvillosum
Aconitum sukaczevii
Aconitum taigicola
Aconitum talassicum
Aconitum tanguticum
Aconitum tauricum
Aconitum turczaninowii
Aconitum umbrosum
Aconitum uncinatum (Southern Blue Monkshood)
Aconitum variegatum
Aconitum volubile
Aconitum vulparia (Wolfsbane)
Aconitum woroschilovii
Natural hybrids[edit]
Aconitum austriacum
Aconitum cammarum
Aconitum hebegynum
Aconitum oenipontanum (A. variegatum ssp. variegatum ssp. paniculatum)
Aconitum pilosiusculum
Aconitum platanifolium (A. lycoctonum ssp. neapolitanum ssp. vulparia)
Aconitum zahlbruckneri (A. napellus ssp. vulgare A. variegatum ssp. variegatum)
References[edit]
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^ a b Chan TY (April 2009). "Aconite poisoning". Clin Toxicol (Phila). 47 (4): 2
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^ Lin CC, Chan TY, Deng JF (May 2004). "Clinical features and management of herb
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^ "Poisonous plant blamed in Nfld. actor's death". CTV.ca. 2004-08-07.
^ "Curry poison killer Lakhvir Singh jailed for life". BBC. 2010-02-11.
^ a b "Gardener who died after handling poisonous Devil's Helmet plant originall
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^ http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/aconite/aconite.html
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^ ""Midsomer Murders" Garden of Death (2000), IMDB.com".
^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.406 ff.. The story is first attested by Euphorion of Cha
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^ Kuehl, BJ. "Count Dracula Original Movie Script". http://www.script-o-rama.com
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^ p. 136, Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet, tr. Bernard Frechtman, Grove Pr
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^ Wang, Wei; Liu, Yang; Yu, Sheng-Xiang; Gai, Tian-Gang; Chen, Zhi-Duan (21 Augu
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^ Aconitum chinense on pfaf.org
External links[edit]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aconitum.
Wikispecies has information related to: Aconitum
James Grout: Aconite Poisoning, part of the Encyclopdia Romana
Photographs of Aconite plants
USDA Plants entry for Aconitum
Jepson Eflora entry for Aconitum
v t e
Ancient anaesthesia
Plants / animals
Aconitum (aconite) Atropa belladonna (belladonna) Cannabis medical use Castoreum
Coca Conium (hemlock) Datura innoxia (thorn-apple) Datura metel (devil's trumpe
t) Hyoscyamus niger (henbane) Lactucarium Mandragora officinarum (mandrake) Opiu
m Saussurea (saw-wort) Willow
People
Abulcasis Avenzoar Avicenna Celsus Dioscorides Galen Hippocrates Rhazes Sabuncuo
glu Sushrutha Theophrastus Zhang
Compounds
Aconitine Atropine Cocaine Coniine Hyoscine ?9-THC Hyoscyamine Morphine Salicyla
te
Taxon identifiers
EoL: 53012 GBIF: 3033663 ITIS: 18411 NCBI: 49188 IPNI: 326013-2 GRIN: 112 FNA: 1
00300 FOC: 100300 PLANTS: ACONI AFPD: 187722
Categories: RanunculaceaeNeurotoxinsPoisonous plantsRanunculaceae generaWerewolv
es
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