|Aconitum subsp. var.||Badger's bane, Monkshood, Wolfsbane, Aconite|
Aconitum (pronounced /ˌækəˈnaɪtəm/ A-co-ní-tum), known as aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard's bane, women's bane, Devil's helmet or blue rocket, is a genus of flowering plant belonging to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). There are over 250 species of Aconitum.
These herbaceous perennial plants are chiefly natives of the mountainous parts of the northern hemisphere, growing in moisture retentive but well draining soils on mountain meadows. Their dark green leaves lack stipules. They are palmate or deeply palmately lobed with 5–7 segments. Each segment again is 3-lobed with coarse sharp teeth. The leaves have a spiral or alternate arrangement. The lower leaves have long petioles.
These are handsome plants, the tall, erect stem being crowned by racemes of large and eye-catching blue, purple, white, yellow or pink zygomorphic flowers with numerous stamens. They are distinguishable by having one of the five petaloid sepals (the posterior one), called the galea, in the form of a cylindrical helmet; hence the English name monkshood. There are 2–10 petals, in the form of nectaries. The two upper petals are large. They are placed under the hood of the calyx and are supported on long stalks. They have a hollow spur at their apex, containing the nectar. The other petals are small and scale like or non forming. The 3–5 carpels are partially fused at the base.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Aconitum. Ranunculaceae. Aconite. Monkshood. Wolfsbane. A group of hardy ornamental, perennial herbs, much used in borders and masses for their showy flowers and effective foliage.
Root tuberous, turnip-shaped, or thick-fibrous: st. tall or long, erect, ascending or trailing: lvs. palmately divided or cleft and cut-lobed: fls. large, irregular, showy; sepals 5, the large upper sepal in shape of a hood or helmet; petals 2-5, small; stamens numerous; carpels 3-5, sessile, many-ovuled, forming follicles when ripened. The number of species varies from 18-80, with different botanists. Native in mountain regions of Eu.. Temp. Asia, and 5 in N. Amer. Reichenbach Monographia Generis Aconiti, Leipsic, 1820, 2 vols., folio; Illustratio Specierum Aconiti, Ixnpsic, 1822-7, folio. Many species are planted in European gardens, but only a few have been much used in Amer.
The aconitums yield important drugs, although none of them is grown for this purpose in this country. The officinal aconite is derived from the roots of A. Napellus from England and continental Europe. The leaves are also used for medicinal purposes. A. japonicum yields Japanese aconite; A. chinense. the Chinese aconite; and A. ferox the "bish" or Nepaul aconite. The poisonous alkaloid aconitin is secured from A. Napellus, and similar alkaloids from A. ferox, A. luridum and A. palmatum, of India, A. Fischeri, A. Lycoctonum, A. septentrionale. Not all these species are described here, as fhey are not horticultural subjects.
These plants present a pleasing contrast to the yellow helianthus and rudbeckias, the white of Phlox paniculata, to Chrysanthemum maximum and Anemone japonica. They are also effective for mixing in on shrub borders. The first season, these herbs do not attain their full perfection. Aconitums should be left undisturbed as long as possible. They will survive the northern winters if kept under a leaf-covering, while for the central part of the country, straw or evergreen boughs are sufficient protection.
The following species do well in any garden land, but respond better if given very rich soil. They thrive in open sun, but flowers last longer in shaded places. Aconites should never be planted in or too near the kitchen-garden or the children's garden, as the roots and some of the flowers have a deadly poison. They are suited to the back of the border, as they are tall.
Propagation is effected easily by division of roots in either late fall or early spring; also by seeds sown as soon as mature, in warm spring, in the North, the seeds may be started in small seed-beds in the spring and then be transplanted when the seedlings are about 2 inches high. In the Central States and southward, a year is gained by sowing the seed in late summer or early fall. CH
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Pests and diseases
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Natural hybrids wp:
- 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)
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963
- w:Aconitum. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
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