Aconite

Aconite, the name of the genus of plants that includes wolfsbane and monkshood. The plants are found in cool areas of the north temperate zone and belong to the buttercup family. A few species are widely raised as ornamental plants. All of the plants of the genus are poisonous.

The aconites are nonwoody perennials that produce showy blossoms and much-divided, palm-shaped leaves. They grow to heights of from one to eight feet (30 to 240 cm). The flowers of most species are blue or white; a few species, including wolfsbane, have yellow flowers.

The drug aconite (which contains several alkaloids, including aconitine, a highly poisonous substance) is extracted from the dried monkshood root. Aconite is an ingredient in various folk medicines, including liniments used to relieve joint pain.

The 50 species in the aconite genus belong to the crowfoot family, Ranunculaceae. Wolfsbane is Aconitum lycoctonum; common monkshood, often called aconite, A. napellus; wild monkshood, A. uncinatum.