- Aconitum formosum Rchb.
- Aconitum pyramidale Mill.
- Aconitum sqarrosum Koch
- Aconitum strictum DC.
Turk's-cap, Monk's-hood, Aconite, Wolfsbane
No status defined
Value of species
Medicinal plant; Ornamental species; Nectar source; Poisonous species
Occurrence: Au(A, L), Be(B, L), BH, Br, Co, Ct, Ga(F), Ge, -Gr, He, Hs(A, S), It, Lu, Po, Rm, Sl, dSu, Uk(U), [Bt, By, nDa, nFe, nHb, aHb(E, N) aIs nNo, Rf(C, N, NW), Su] (EuroMed, 2019).
A species native and endemic to western and central Europe.
It is an herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) tall, with hairless stems and leaves. The leaves are rounded, 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) diameter, palmately divided into five to seven deeply lobed segments. The flowers are dark purple to bluish-purple, narrow oblong helmet-shaped, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) tall. Plants native to Asia and North America formerly listed as A. napellus are now regarded as separate species. The plant is highly toxic, extremely poisonous in both ingestion and skin contact.
Nine subspecies are accepted by the Flora Europaea: Aconitum napellus subsp. napellus, south-western Britain; Aconitum napellus subsp. corsicum (Gáyer) W.Seitz, Corsica; Aconitum napellus subsp. firmum (Rchb.) Gáyer, Central and eastern Europe; Aconitum napellus subsp. fissurae (Nyár.) W.Seitz, Balkans to south-western Russia; Aconitum napellus subsp. hians (Rchb.) Gáyer, Central Europe; Aconitum napellus subsp. lusitanicum Rouy, south-western Europe; Aconitum napellus subsp. superbum (Fritsch) W.Seitz, western Balkans; Aconitum napellus subsp. tauricum (Wulfen) Gáyer, Eastern Alps, southern Carpathians (declared as an own species Aconitum tauricum by other sources); Aconitum napellus subsp. vulgare (DC.) Rouy & Foucaud, Alps, Pyrenees, northern Spain.
Like other species in the genus, A. napellus contains several poisonous compounds, including enough cardiac poison that it was used on spears and arrows for hunting and battle in ancient times. A. napellus has a long history of use as a poison, with cases going back thousands of years. During the ancient Roman period of European history, the plant was often used to eliminate criminals and enemies, and by the end of the period it was banned and anyone growing A. napellus could have been legally sentenced to death. Aconites have been used more recently in murder plots; they contain the chemical alkaloids aconitine, mesaconitine, hypaconitine and jesaconitine, which are highly toxic.
- Andriy NOVIKOV, Dr, e-mail: email@example.com