aconite


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Related to aconite: monkshood

aconite

(ăk`ənīt),

monkshood,

or

wolfsbane,

any of several species of the genus Aconitum of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercupbuttercup
or crowfoot,
common name for the Ranunculaceae, a family of chiefly annual or perennial herbs of cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Thought to be one of the most primitive families of dicotyledenous plants, the Ranunculaceae typically have a simple
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 family), hardy perennial plants of the north temperate zone, growing wild or cultivated for ornamental or medicinal purposes. They contain violent poisons that were recognized from early times and were mentioned by Shakespeare (2 King Henry IV, iv:4); more recently they have been used medicinally in a liniment, tincture, and drug, and in India on spears and arrows for hunting. The drug aconite, the active principle of which is the alkaloid aconitine, is used as a sedative, e.g., for neuralgia and rheumatism, and is obtained from A. napellus. Aconites are erect or trailing, with deeply cut leaves and, in late summer and fall, hooded showy flowers of blue, yellow, purple, or white. The name wolfsbane derives from an old superstition that the plant repelled werewolves. Winter aconite is a name for plants of the genus Eranthis, wild or garden perennials of the same family. Aconites are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.

Aconite

(pop culture)

Aconite (aconitum napellus) is another name for wolfsbane or monkshood. This poisonous plant was believed by the ancient Greeks to have arisen in the mouths of Cerberus (a three-headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades) while under the influence of Hecate, the goddess of magic and the underworld. It later was noted as one of the ingredients of the ointment that witches put on their body in order to fly off to their sabbats. In Dracula (Spanish, 1931), aconite was substituted for garlic as the primary plant used to repel the vampire.

Sources:

Emboden, William A. Bizarre Plants: Magical, Monstrous, Mythical. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1974. 214 pp.

Aconite

 

(Aconitum), monkshood, a genus of perennial herbaceous plants of the family Ranunculaceae. Roots are tuberous and thickened; leaves palmate-incised or palmate-compound; flowers yellow, blue, or violet, rarely white, arranged in a more or less thick apical raceme. The calyx consists of five petaloid colored bracts. The upper bract resembles a helmet covering two nectaries (modified petals). About 300 species grow in the northern hemisphere, about 75 of these in the USSR. Most of the aconite species are poisonous; they contain alkaloids such as aconitine and zongorine. Many aconite species are cultivated as ornamentals.

aconite

[′ak·ə‚nīt]
(botany)
Any plant of the genus Aconitum. Also known as friar's cowl; monkshood; mousebane; wolfsbane.
(pharmacology)
A toxic drug obtained from the dried tuberous root of Aconitum napellus; the principal alkaloid is aconitine.

aconite

, aconitum
1. any of various N temperate plants of the ranunculaceous genus Aconitum, such as monkshood and wolfsbane, many of which are poisonous
2. the dried poisonous root of many of these plants, sometimes used as an antipyretic
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