Aconitum plants and species

Aconitum or Monkshood Flower
Aconitum or Monkshood Flower

Aconitum are commonly called Aconites, Wolfsbane and Monkshood all the same thing, except it is better to differentiate by using the species name as they are very different plants in some ways.

Aconitum napellus and aconitum carmichaelii which are the two most popular species are readily available for sale from online nurseries.

Aconitum napellus is the common ‘Monkshood’ and is put forward as being one of the most poisonous plants of all.

As with many plants this is true, however it has a terrible taste and would be very difficult to eat by mistake. It does have sap that is poisonous as well, a strong irritant to the skin. So at all times handle these plants with care.

A perennial plant that grows well in a humus rich fertile soil, Aconitum or ‘Monkshood’ is a great addition to the garden border (see picture right). Remember that these can be tall growing reaching around 5ft (1.8m) so planting near the back of the garden border is best.


Try a position in full sun to part shade and remember to water on the hotter days.

The attraction is the hooded flowers (resembling monkshoods) remember that these plants are toxic so handle with gloves in the garden. Well suited to zones 5 -8 and generally frost hardy.

Seeds can be sown directly in spring, or earlier in a cold frame or greenhouse.

Clumps can be divided in late summer to fall as the foliage begins to die back or in early spring.

Aconitum Varieties

  • Aconitum ‘Bressingham Spire’ , Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Wilsonii’ and Aconitum ‘Blue Sceptre’ are all popular cultivars.
  • Aconitum x cammarum ‘Stainless Steel’ which has lighter steely blue flowers a great variation.
  • Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’ which is a late flowering plant.
  • Aconitum septentrionale ‘Ivorine’ is a lower growing cultivar with creamy white flowers .
  • Aconitum ‘Blue Lagoon’ is even smaller.
  • Aconitum vulparia is the ‘yellow wolfsbane’ difficult to find in cultivation


Very easy by division of established clumps, best divided in spring. Also easy by seed.

Where to buy

DIGGING DOG NURSERY – phone (707) 937-1130
PO Box 471 Albion CA 95410
A spectacular selection of hard to find perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs, trees and vines for your garden. Includes: aconitum carmichaelli, aconitum fischeri, aconitum cammarum.