Aconitum – Monkshood

aconitum monkshead

Above: Featured Image, Aconitum, courtsey wikimedia commons

Aconitum is a tall, erect perennial that blooms in the  fall garden and adds valuable blue colors to contrast with the hot colors of autumn.  Everything about Aconitum is incredible. The stems are strong. The delphinium-like flowers and foliage are easy-care, don’t requiring staking .they also have beautiful, dark, glossy foliage. Unlike Delphiniums, this plant prefers a shady spot to grow in!

Aconitum is a member of the Ranunculaceae flower family and grows from a tuber. Once it is planted, it can be left for years without dividing so is considered one of the longest living perennials.  The deep blue flower’s upper sepal develops into a medieval looking monk’s hood-like covering, thus giving Aconitum the common name of Monkshood.

aconitum monkshood

Aconitum thrives in cool temperature winter climates and is even hardy into Canada. Cool summer climates in a moist, but well-drained area are also to its liking. Add this to Aconitum’s preference for neutral to alkaline soils where they attract late season pollinators and repeal deer and wildlife, and you have a plant that is custom created for western high-valley gardens.

aconitum monkshood

A Warning Aconitum’s Poisonous Properties

The repelling of wildlife may be due to Aconitum’s reputation as a poisonous herb and it was once used as poison on arrows and bait to kill wolves. Consequently, it is also known by the common name of Wolfbane. For this reason, it is important to always wear gloves when working with this perennial. Because of its poisonous properties, do not grow it in an area where children can come into contact with it. All parts of this plant–foliage, flowers, seeds and tubers are poisonous.

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