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Almanac Planting Wolfsbane (Monkshood) (Aconitum napellus). A cluster of bluish-purple flowers on the top of a stalk in the middle of a flower garden.

Wolfsbane (Monkshood)

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Aconitum napellus

Overview

Uses: Herbaceous perennial plant. 

Benefits: Attracts Pollinators, Produces beautiful bluish-purple flowers.

Zones: 3 - 7

Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Life Cycle: Perennial 

Mature Height: 40" 

Mature Width: 24"

Bloom Season: Summer

Summary

Aconitum napelluscommonly known as Wolfsbane, and Monkshood—is a flowering perennial that's best known for both its beauty and its danger. 

It grows gorgeous deep purple to bluish-purple helmet shaped flowers towards the top of its stalk, somewhat resembling the cowls worn by monks... hence the name "Monkshood".

It was historically used as a poison for both people and animals. In addition to arrows being dipped in its sap to ensure lethality of strikes, it was also often added to bait meat for undesirable animals such as wolves... hence the name "Wolfsbane". 

Care

Monkshood Care

Aconitum napellus is toxic. No parts of it should be consumed, or handled without gloves. Plant in an area that children and pets can not freely access. 

Fertilizations will accelerate growth and keep your plant well fed. We suggest using our slow release fertilizer, or something similiar.

Wolfsbane may be grown in full sun, although partial shade is better. If growing in full sun, ensure that soil is kept moist and cool through the use of mulch. 

Water regularly after planting until established, or in periods of drought. Its ideal soil is moist, rich, and well draining. 

It's best to cut back the stalks of this plant once flowers begin to wilt and die. 

After a few years, we suggest propagating your Aconitum napellus through division. This is best done in spring, and is accomplished by simply cutting the base of the plant and its roots into sections, and replanting those sections. Be sure to wear gloves when working with the highly poisonous roots of this plant. 

Size

Size of Wolfsbane That You Ship

We ship our Aconitum napellus in a 4" grow pot. The plant will be appropriately sized for its pot. 

Size of Wolfsbane When Fully Grown

Aconitum napellus typically grows to a height of 3'-4' and a width of around 2'. 

Additional Information

Common Names of Aconitum napellus

  • Wolfsbane

  • Monkshood

  • Aconite

Toxicity and Risks of Wolfsbane

Aconitum napellus is one of the most poisonous plants in the world and extreme care must be taken with it. Toxins are easily absorbed if eaten or touched. 

All parts of the plant are poisonous, although some more than others. The primary toxin within this plant is known as aconitine, and kills by paralyzing the heart and/or respiratory system. 

Initial signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are typically followed by numbness, burning, and tingling. Death often results within hours of a lethal dose, although it is sometimes almost instantaneous.