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Aconitum - A.K.A. Wolfsbane & Monkshood

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      06.03.2007 01:45
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      It might look a nice plant , but it will kill

      Seems to be a few poisons herb out there, started to read up about some of these herb and some are not such a good plant to grow, don't get me wrong this herb is stunningly beautiful to look at. The review is going to be about Monkshood, for obvious reasons you must not eat this plant it will inflict a lot of pain and eventually could kill you.

      Please be careful when deciding to grow this plant, it has been known to kill humans and animals.

      I have attached 2 pictures of the plant; you can see how stunning the colours are.

      Monkshood - Aconitum napellus

      ***The Plant***

      The herb Monkshood maybe recognised by it other names, Friar's cap, Old woman's night cap, Chariots drawn by doves, Blue rocket and Wolf's bane.

      There are various species of Monkshood that can be found growing in temperate regions of the world, from woodlands to mountain regions and all the species are poisonous.

      The generic name "Aconitum" comes from the Greek word "akoniton" meaning dart. The Greeks used to dip there arrowheads in the juice they had collected from the plant, it was also used by the Arabs and the Chinese for the same reason. The Greek botanist Theophrastus in also noted this plant as very poisonous 300 years BC.

      In the 16th century the botanist Gerard noted "Fair and good blue flowers in shape like helmet which are so beautiful that man would think were of some excellent virtue, Appearance should not be trusted". I read about a man who in 1993 who was hospitalized after handling them outside a pub in Southampton, The plant Monkshood has also known to kill animals, not just humans.

      I found a good quote in a book "It is important always to teach people which plants are harmful, and which plants are edible. If you remove all poisonous plants from the garden, people will not learn to respect". This is very true to the Monkshood!

      ***Species***

      Monkshood is a hardy perennial that can grow 5 foot tall and spread about 1 foot, with tall slender spires of hooded light blue or indigo flowers in the summer, and the leaves are a mid-green palm shaped.

      The Aconitum napellus is the same as above in growth and foliage, and is supposed to be the most dangerous plant in Britain.

      ***Cultivation***

      As I have mentioned above, the plant is very dangerous and should not be grown where children and pets are about. When even attempting to grow Monkshood it says you should handle the seeds and the seedlings, and even the plants with protective gloves (surgical gloves), and wash your hands when finished.

      It is worth growing? Well the pictures I have placed on the review are stunning but the plant comes with such a high risk.

      You can sow the seeds under protection in the autumn or spring, placed in seed trays and cover lightly with perlite. Germination can be very erratic, an all or nothing affair. Once the seedlings are big enough to handle, plant out in a shaded area 12 inches apart and again don't forget the protective gloves.

      Monkshood can take 2-3 years to flower from seedlings.

      You can also divide Monkshood in the autumn, as long as the soil isn't frozen. Just divide the plant and replant in a soil prepared area in the shade, sorry I know I have said it enough but don't forget the protective gloves.

      I think the best place "IF" you are going to grow it, is at the backs of borders away from the path, or even under a tree away from young fingers. Personally I don't think I would plant this in a garden with children on either side of the fence so to speak, it not worth the risk.

      In the summer cut back after flowering and no need to protect in the winter as it's fully hardy.

      Unless you are a qualified herbalist I do not recommend you harvesting it

      ***Pests***

      As you can imagine the Monkshood doesn't suffer from pests, and its pretty disease free.

      ***Medicinal***

      The plant has one of the most potent nerve poisons in the plant kingdom, and is used in analgesic medicines to alleviate pain both internal and external. These drugs can only be prescribed by qualified medical practitioners.

      Tinctures of Monkshood are used in homeopathy.

      ***Culinary***

      No use in the kitchen

      ***WARNING***

      The symptoms of poisoning are a burning sensation on the tongue, vomiting, severe stomach pains and diarrhoea, and eventually leading to paralysis and death.

      Emergency antidotes are available at hospitals, which are atropine and strophanthin.

      As with all herbal medicine do your researches before you use it

      Thanks for reading my reviews, and thankyou for rating them.

      Tashi Delek (May everything be well)

      enlightened_one © 2007

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