Monkshood
aka Wolfsbane
Aconitum napellus
Perennial
In leaf Feb.-Oct. Flowers July-Aug. Seed ripens June-July.
Common Names / Habitat / Magickal Uses / Edible Uses / Medicinal Uses / Cultivation / Propagation

Common Names: Aconite, Aconito, Aconito Napello, Auld Wife's Huid, Blauer Eisenhut, Blue Rocket, Duivelskruid, European Monkshood, Friar's Cap, Kaplanbogan, Monk'Shood, Monk's-hood, Monkshood, Poison Aconite, Stormhat, True Monkshood, Tue Loup, Uva Verga, Venus' Chariot, Venus'-chariot, Yoshu-Tori-Kabuto,

Habitat: Damp shady places and moist rich meadows in southern Wales and southwestern England.

Magickal Uses: *POISON* Don't ingest.
Gender: Feminine, Planet: Saturn, Sign: Capricorn, Element: Water, Deities: Hecate, Medea

Protection, Invisibility. Use this herb with great caution to consecrate the athame or ritual knife. Make an infusion with the leaves or root to banish prior energy from magickal blades and to infuse it with protection. The root or leaves may be burned as incense for the same purpose. Gather the fresh flowers to make a tincture to refresh the power of the knives. Use an infusion as a magickal wash for ritual tools or sacred space. Brings protection and magickal watchfulness against negative energies in ritual. Wash a new cauldron in the infusion or burn aconite in its first fire. Used to invoke Hecate. Wrap the seed in a lizard skin and carry to become invisible at will. Used to poison arrow tips in early times. Also as protection from and a cure for werewolves.

Edible Uses: HIGHLY TOXIC. See below. Some reports suggest the root is edible if cooked, but these should be treated with extreme caution due to the highly toxic nature of the plant.

Medicinal Uses: Analgesic; Anodyne; Antirheumatic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Homeopathy; Irritant; Sedative. Aconite has been used since ancient times, especially as an antidote to poisoning. Since the entire plant is itself very toxic, however, any use should be under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. All parts of the plant are used medicinally. The root is the most important and this is harvested as soon as the plant dies down in the autumn and is dried before use. The other parts of the plant are less important and are used fresh, being harvested when the plant is coming into flower. The root is analgesic, anodyne, antirheumatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, irritant and sedative. Due to its poisonous nature, it is not normally used internally though it has been used in the treatment of fevers. Externally, it is applied to unbroken skin in the treatment of rheumatism, painful bruises, neuralgia etc. All parts of the plant, except the root, are harvested when the plant is in flower and used to make a homeopathic medicine. This is analgesic and sedative and is used especially in the treatment of fevers, inflammation, bronchitis, neuralgia etc.

Cultivation: Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Plants only thrive in a sunny position if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season. Prefers a calcareous soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.5. Plants take 2 - 3 years to flower when grown from seed. Grows well in open woodlands. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. Although the plant is a perennial, individual roots only live for one year and die after flowering. Each root produces a number of 'daughter' roots before it dies and these can be used for propagating the plant. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes. An aggregate species which is divided by some botanists into many species.

Propagation: Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division - best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year.

From the 2000 Horizon Herbs catalog:

[Use] Extra care. Sow outdoors in fall for spring germination. The seed must be subjected to 2 or more weeks of warm, moist temperatures followed by 6 weeks or more of freezing temperatures. Expect germination as the ground warms up. Flowers in the second or third year to a height of four feet.

From the Mich. State Univ. Extension:

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 8

Height: 4 ft Spacing: 18 in

Type: herbaceous perennial

Flowers: Blue

Propagation: Propagation is by seed, or division done in autumn or early spring. Delay division until the plants absolutely need it. Starting seed may not be reliable. The seed needs moist storage at 41 degrees for six weeks to overcome dormancy.

Mode of poisoning: Ingestion.

Poisonous Part: All parts.

Symptoms: Burning of lips and mouth, numbness of throat; intense vomiting and diarrhea, muscular weakness and spasms, weak pulse, paralysis of the respiratory system, convulsions; may be fatal.

Toxic Principle:Alkaloids aconitine and others.

Severity: HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!

Back to Witches Garden

1