Posted by Jessie Jacobson on Jan 1st 2024

Aconitum (Monkshood) 

When looking for vivid colors in late summer gardens, without question Aconitum, Monkshood or Wolfbane, is at the top of the list. Aconitum, a member of the Ranunculaceae or buttercup family, adorns the landscape with its deep blue-purple majestic flowers feeding pollinators late in the season.


Native to Europe, Asia, and the mountainous areas of North America, Aconitum thrives in part-sun conditions with shade available during the hottest time of the day. If planted in too much shade they are prone to powdery mildew and will not flower as well. Monkshood prefers a rich well-drained soil with additional compost added each spring to add nutrients and help retain moisture. It’s easy to grow, hardy, and adaptable to most conditions.

All parts of Monkshood are poisonous except for its nectar. Simply brushing against the plant or an accidental ingestion of a small amount is not going to be fatal, but caution should be taken when choosing where to plant. Avoid planting near vegetable gardens and areas where children and pets play. Gloves should be worn when working on or near Aconitum. Because of its toxicity, it’s highly resistant to diseases and pests including deer and rabbits.


Monkshood is named from the flowers that resemble the hood or cowl of monk’ robes. The showy blue-purple flowers rise above palmated leaves on 1 to 4 ft striking spikes. The individual blooms form on a terminal raceme the extends up to 8 inches. Inside each flower are 25 to 50 stamens and 3 or more pistils. As the pollen ripens, the stamens extend from the flower to capture the attention of the bees. The pollen and nectar is non-toxic.  As well as being attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, the showy flowers make excellent cut flowers.


Happy planting. See you at Tonkadale.