aconite

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Related to winter aconites: Eranthis hyemalis

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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

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.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
IT might seem odd that the discreet little winter aconite and the showy peonies once belonged to the same plant family.
Any of these cultivars make a first-rate background for snowdrops or winter aconites. Cornus alba will tolerate wet or dry conditions but if you've got really wet ground, the North American species Cornus stolonifera revels in damp conditions.
The funding will also provide 9,000 bulbs and wildflowers which will be planted in two stages later this spring: In February, 2,000 Winter Aconites, 2,000 Snowdrops and 2,000 Bluebells will arrive, followed in March by 500 each of Cowslips, Wild Primrose, Campion and Foxgloves.
This is the best venue, too, for This is the best venue, too, for | Galanthus 'Atkinsii', left | Galanthus 'Atkinsii', left | Wild winter aconites, below | Wild winter aconites, below GGARDEN writers are spoiled for choice in midsummer over what to talk about.
For the next couple of months, apart from evergreens and hellebores, the main interest will be from bulbous plants, snowdrops, winter aconites and the irises I've been writing about.
Yesterday it reported snowdrops are out and winter aconites are under the magnolia.
For an instant display of outdoor blooms, plant early-flowering spring bulbs (such as snowdrops and winter aconites) "in the green" - in leaf and flower.
Bulbs such as Wood Anemones, Bluebells and Winter Aconites flower early in the year, taking advantage of the high light levels when deciduous trees are bare.
Grape hyacinth or scilla and crocus, winter aconites, snowdrops, bluebells and early maturing daffodils are useful for planting in established gardens as they all tolerate the dry, shady conditions found beneath trees and shrubs and will grow to look like a carpet.
Many other spring flowers are also starting to show their faces, including drifts of winter aconites.
SMALLER suitable plants include lenten roses (helleborus orientalis), geranium phaeum and many of the other herbaceous geraniums, Solomon's seal, periwinkle, variegated dead nettles (lamium White Nancy, Silver Beacon etc.) and bulbs such as snowdrops, winter aconites, bluebells, Turk's cap lily and the giant lily (cardiocrinum giganteum).BASED on the age-old sheep shear scissor, this great design trimmer measures 28cm in length and incorporates a blade length of 14cm.