Azure monkshood Aconitum carmichaelii

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
Carmichael's monk's hood


The plant commonly known as Monkshood is a striking perennial that is well known for its hooded flowers, which bear a resemblance to the hoods on medieval monks’ habits, hence the name. These flowers are typically a deep blue or purple color, although they can also appear in shades of white, pink, or yellow. They bloom in dense clusters along upright spikes. Monkshood's leaves are dark green and deeply divided into segments or lobes, somewhat resembling the leaves of a maple tree in shape. They are often glossy and have a leathery texture. The plant's foliage forms a mound at the base, with the flowers rising above on the spike. The stems of this plant are sturdy and erect, with the flowers arranged in a raceme – which means they are set along the stem in a way that resembles a spike. Each individual flower is intricate and consists of several parts, including the characteristic hood formed by one of the petal-like sepals, which is why it's named Monkshood. The roots and tubers of Monkshood are fleshy and contain compounds that are highly toxic, making this plant as dangerous as it is beautiful. Extreme caution is therefore advised when handling any part of this plant, as all parts are poisonous if ingested or if they come into prolonged contact with the skin. With its uniquely shaped flowers and lush foliage, Monkshood is a visually captivating plant that adds a touch of drama to the garden setting. Despite its beauty, the plant's toxic nature is an important consideration for gardeners when deciding whether to include it in their plantings.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Carmichael's Monkshood, Chinese Aconite, Chinese Monkshood

    • Common names

      Aconitum chinense var. truppelianum, Aconitum fischeri, Aconitum kusnezoffii var. angustius, Aconitum kusnezoffii var. truppelianum, Aconitum napellus var. truppelianum, Aconitum variegatum, Aconitum wilsonii.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters)

    • Spread

      1-2 feet (0.3-0.6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value - Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Carmichael's monkshood, is valued for its striking blue to violet flowers that add aesthetic appeal to gardens.
    • Pollinator Attraction - The flowers of Carmichael's monkshood are known to attract bees and other pollinators, supporting local ecosystems.
    • Seasonal Interest - This plant blooms in late summer to early fall, offering color and interest in the garden when many other plants have finished flowering.
    • Vertical Accents - With its tall, erect growth habit, it provides vertical accents in border plantings or flower beds, adding structure to garden designs.
    • Shade Tolerance - It can thrive in partially shaded locations where many other flowering plants might struggle, making it a good choice for woodland or shaded gardens.
    • Drought Resistance - Once established, Carmichael's monkshood is relatively drought-tolerant, making it suitable for gardens with limited water availability.
    • Deer and Rabbit Resistance - The plant is typically resistant to browsing by deer and rabbits, which is beneficial for gardeners in areas with high wildlife presence.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Analgesic: Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Chinese monkshood, has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for its analgesic properties to relieve pain.
    • Anti-inflammatory: It may have anti-inflammatory effects to reduce swelling and inflammation in the body.
    • Cardiotonic: The plant has been used historically to strengthen cardiac function.
    • Febrifuge: Chinese monkshood has been used as a febrifuge to reduce fever.
    • Sedative: It has been utilized for its sedative effects to promote relaxation and alleviate stress or anxiety symptoms.
    Please note that Aconitum carmichaelii is highly toxic and its use can be extremely dangerous. The processing of the plant for medicinal use should only be done by trained professionals, and misuse can lead to severe poisoning or death. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Aconitum carmichaelii, also known as monkshood, has been used in traditional landscape gardening for its vibrant blue or purple flowers that add a touch of dramatic color to autumn gardens.
    • The tall and stately appearance of monkshood can provide a visual anchor or a backdrop in a mixed perennial border, offering structure and height to the garden design.
    • The cut flowers of monkshood are sometimes used in floral arrangements where their unique hooded blooms create an eye-catching display.
    • Monkshood has been historically used in folklore as a protective plant, where it was thought to ward off evil spirits and negative influences when planted around dwellings.
    • In the past, some cultures have used the sap or decoctions from monkshood's roots to poison arrow tips for hunting, though this is highly dangerous and not recommended.
    • Due to its distinctive appearance, monkshood can play an educational role in botanical gardens or plant nurseries, illustrating plant diversity and the importance of plant identification.
    • In certain cultural ceremonies or festivals, particularly in Asia, monkshood might play a role as a decorative element due to its deep association with mythology and symbolism.
    • Some artisans might use the image or shape of monkshood flowers in the design of jewelry, ceramics, or textiles, inspired by its unique form and historical significance.
    • In photography and fine art, monkshood can be a subject of interest due to its vivid color and intricate flower structure, offering a striking motif for artists.
    • Monkshood can be incorporated into butterfly gardens as it is known to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, enhancing biodiversity in the area.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Monkshood is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Monkshood is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Caution: Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Monkshood, is highly poisonous, which symbolizes the need for caution and careful handling in various aspects of life.
    • Protection: Due to its toxic nature, Monkshood was historically used to ward off evil spirits and negative influences, symbolizing protection and safety.
    • Deceit: Its beautiful, hood-like flowers can be deceiving, as the plant is deadly, making it a symbol for things that appear attractive on the outside but may hide danger within.
    • Misfortune: In some cultures, Monkshood is associated with bad luck or death, due to its potential to harm if mishandled, symbolizing misfortune or the darker sides of fate.
    • Power: The potent toxins in Monkshood can symbolize personal power or strength, reminding one to use their capabilities responsibly.
    • Chivalry: In the language of flowers, Monkshood is often associated with chivalry, perhaps due to its association with medieval knights who might have used the plant's toxins for their own ends.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Early spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Monkshood, commonly known as Aconitum carmichaelii, requires moderate watering to maintain moist but not waterlogged soil. During the active growth season in spring and summer, water the plant once every week with about 1 to 1.5 gallons, depending on the size of the plant and the weather conditions. If rainfall is sufficient, reduce watering accordingly. It's essential to avoid overhead watering to keep the foliage dry and prevent disease. In the fall, as the plant prepares for dormancy, reduce watering frequency to help harden off the plant for winter.

  • sunLight

    Monkshood thrives in partially shaded conditions, where it can receive dappled sunlight or direct morning sun followed by afternoon shade. An ideal spot would be one that mimics the light conditions of a woodland edge. Too much direct sunlight can lead to scorched leaves, while too little light can result in leggy growth and decreased flowering.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The ideal temperature range for Monkshood is between 50°F and 65°F. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F and as high as 80°F without significant damage. To ensure healthy growth, it's best to plant it where it is shielded from extreme heat, preserving the cool conditions it prefers.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Monkshood is mostly done to remove spent flower stalks and promote a tidy appearance. It should be pruned in the late fall after the plant has gone dormant. This helps to prevent self-sowing if undesired, and can also be helpful in preventing disease by removing any diseased or dead plant material.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Monkshood thrives in moist, well-drained soil with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. A mix rich in organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, will help maintain the right moisture balance and provide essential nutrients. A light application of a balanced fertilizer can be beneficial during the growing season.

  • plantRepotting

    Monkshood does not require frequent repotting as it prefers to be undisturbed. Repotting can be done every 2-3 years to refresh the soil or when the plant outgrows its current container. It's best to repot in early spring before the onset of new growth.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Monkshood prefers moderate humidity levels but is quite adaptable to different environments. Ensure good air circulation to prevent any humidity-related issues, especially during hot or moist conditions.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright, indirect light and keep soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Place in part shade; ensure soil is moist, rich in organics.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Chinese monkshood, begins its life as a seed which germinates in the spring, requiring a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. After germination, seedlings develop into juvenile plants with a rosette of leaves close to the ground during the first growing season. As the plant matures, it develops a sturdy stem and a deep, tuberous root system that allows it to survive the winter as a perennial. In subsequent years, it produces tall, erect stems with deeply divided, dark green leaves and a spiky inflorescence of blue or purple hooded flowers in late summer to early fall. After pollination, typically by bees, the flowers produce follicles containing seeds that, when mature, are dispersed to begin a new cycle. The plant enters a period of dormancy during the winter months, with the aerial parts dying back and growth resuming from the rootstock in spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early spring

    • Propogation: Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Monkshood or Wolfsbane, is most commonly propagated through division of its tuberous roots. The best time to carry out this propagation method is in the early spring, just as the plant is emerging from dormancy and the new growth can be seen. When dividing the roots, gardeners should carefully dig up the entire plant and gently separate the roots into smaller sections, ensuring that each new section has at least one growth bud. These sections are then replanted at the same depth they were growing previously, spaced around 2 feet (61 centimeters) apart to give them room to develop. This method is straightforward and allows for the rapid increase of plants, maintaining the characteristics of the parent specimen. It is recommended to handle Monkshood with care and wear gloves, as all parts of the plant are highly toxic.