aconite(redirected from winter aconites)
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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.
(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.