Aconitum napellus is an erect, tuberous-rooted perennial which features dense, terminal racemes (to 8" long) of hooded, deep purplish-blue to violet flowers atop rigid, leafy stems typically growing 2-4' tall. These are commonly found in moist pastures and moist mountainous areas of Europe and Asia. Dark green leaves are deeply divided into 5-7 toothed lobes. The sepals and petals of the flowers are similarly colored, with the upper sepal developing into a large, helmet-like structure that somewhat resembles the hood worn by medieval monks, hence the common names of monkshood and helmet flower. Also sometimes commonly called wolfsbane because this plant was once used as an arrow poison and in a poison bait for killing wolves. All parts of the plant (especially the roots and seeds) are extremely poisonous. The drug aconite is made from the leaves and roots of this species and was once prescribed as a cardiac and respiratory sedative.
LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS: USDA hardiness zones: 3 through 7
CARE INSTRUCTIONS WATER: Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils.
FERTILIZER: To promote more flowers use a well balanced fertilizer once a week April through October.
FLOWERING: Blooms July through August with deep purpleish blue flowers. SOIL: Use well drainable soil.
DISEASE: No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot, powdery mildew and verticillium wilt are occasional problems.
WARNING: WEAR GLOVES WHEN WORKING WITH THIS PLANT. Avoid skin or oral contact with plant juices, and be particularly careful to cover up any open cuts or skin abrasions prior to entering garden areas.