Aconite (Aconitum napellus)

Aconitum napellus

Aconite ia a hardy perennial with a fleshy, spindle-shaped root, which has dark brown skin. The stem is about 3 feet high, with dark green, glossy leaves, deeply divided and palmate. The flowers grow in erect clusters of a dark blue color. The shape of the flower attracts bees, (especially Bumble Bees). The sepals are purple, one of them being in the form of a hood. There are two petals within the hood, somewhat in the form of a hammer, the stamens are numerous and lie depressed in a bunch at the mouth of the flower.

Other Names: Monkshood, Friar’s cap, Mousebane, Wolfsbane
Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Flowers: August – October
Parts Used: Roots & leaves.
Habitat: Low woods & damp slopes. Pennsylvania south to Georgia; west to Alabama and Indiana.

Note: Various species of aconite grow wild in North America, particularly in the mountainous regions. These are similarly poisonous.


It is aconite’s poison properties that stand out. It has been called wolfsbane because it was supposed to have been used to poison arrows used in hunting wolves. The scientific name is said to be derived from akontion, a dart, because it was also used to poison arrows. It has also been suggested that Aconitum is derived from akone, cliffy or rocky, because the plant is sometimes found in rocky areas. The old herbalists list the poisonous nature of aconite, mostly noting its usefulness against venomous creatures.
Aconite has had widespread use. The Europeans knew and used it. The Chinese also used it, and it remains one of the principal drug plants used in Chinese medicine today. In America, the Indians discovered the beneficial and dangerous properties of the herb and used it in early stages of pneumonia and in rheumatism.
Constituents: Aconitine, Benzaconine, Aconine
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Anodyne, febrifuge, and sedative.
Main Uses: Preparations of aconite are used for external application to the skin to relieve the pain of neuralgia, sciatica, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, measles, nervous fever, and chronic skin problems.
Preparation And Dosages:
Fresh Herb Tincture: (1:4) in 60% alcohol. Take 1 to 5 drops up to 4 times a day.

Extremely Toxic! Small doses of aconite can cause painful death.

Back To Medicinal Herbs

Leave a Reply