Aconitum monkshood

(a-ko-nee' tum)

Common name: Monkshood, Wolfsbane

Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup

Height x width: 2-4' x 1-2'

Growth rate, habit: moderate, upright

(photo courtesy Todd Weinmann,

Foliage: light to dark green, divided

Flowers: late summer to fall, generally blue or white spikes or racemes

(photo courtesy kaku0805,

Hardiness: zones 3-6 or 7

Soil: average, tolerate moist, dislike wet

Light: sun, tolerates part shade in zone 6

Pests and problems: leaf diseases

Landscape habit, uses: mid to back of borders

Other interest: common name from enlarged sepal resembling Monk's hood and from roots' use in past as poison bait for wolves, all parts poisonous so avoid getting sap on skin

Other culture: need cool nights to grow well, set crowns just below soil surface when planting, resents transplanting, may need staking if in shade

Propagation: sow seed just before or when ripe (otherwise a long dormancy and difficult), separate brittle tuberous roots in late fall or early spring


x cammarum (kam-mar' um)--Bicolor Monkshood, zones 3-7, 3-4' x 2', various color flowers in summer, inflorescences often branched, various habits and heights, hybrid of variegatum and napellus

henryi (hen-ree' yii)--zones 3-7, 4-5' x 2', indigo blue flowers, leaves divided into 3 segments

carmichaelii (car-my-kal' ee-ii)--Azure Monkshood, zones 3-7, dark blue in late summer to early fall, thicker and not as dissected leaves as cammarum, seldom needs staking, prefers moist organic soil

lamarckii (la-mar-kee' ii)--Yellow Monkshood, zones 3-6, 3-4' x 2', yellow racemes in late summer to early fall, light green leaves with 5-7 deep lobes

napellus (na-pell' us)--Common Monkshood, zones 3-6, 3-4' x 1', dark blue flowers in late summer, doubly and deeply divided leaves, ground leaves have been used medicinally

reclinatum (re-cli-naa' tum)--Trailing Monkshood, zones 5-8, 2-3' x 6-8', white to yellow flowers, Southeast U.S. native, trailing stems

Cultivars, other taxa species flowers other
'Album' napellus white 3-4' tall
'Arendsii' carmichaelii intense blue, fall 3-4', no staking
'Bicolor' x cammarum blue and white, branched 3-4' tall
'Blue Sceptre' x cammarum blue and white, less branched 2-3' tall
'Bressingham Spire' x cammarum violet-blue, upright 2-3', no staking
'Carneum' napellus pink needs cool nights
'Ivorine' septentrionale creamy white 1-2' tall, compact
'Newry Blue' cammarum navy blue, upright 4-5' tall
'Spark's Variety' henryi dark blue 4-5' tall

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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