Wolfsbane Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum

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


The Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum, commonly known as wolf's bane, is a flowering plant that is noted for its striking appearance. This plant features a sturdy stem that gives rise to clusters of hooded flowers. The flowers are typically vibrant and can range in color, often displaying shades of yellow or creamy hues. Each flower has a unique helmet-like shape, which is characteristic of the Aconit family. The foliage of wolf's bane consists of deeply divided leaves that are palmate, meaning they resemble the palm of a hand with fingers spreading out. The texture of the leaves is somewhat leathery, and they bear a rich green color that complements the flowers well. This subspecies of wolf's bane, like its relatives, bears a certain poise in its structure, with each part of the plant contributing to a well-formed and majestic overall appearance. The roots and stem contain specific compounds that are best handled with care, as they have a storied history in folklore and toxicity. When in bloom, the wolf's bane stands with an aura of elegance that is both beautiful and commanding, a testament to its enduring role in both nature and cultural legend.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Wolfsbane, Northern Wolfsbane, Yellow Monkshood

    • Common names

      Aconitum moldavicum, Aconitum lycoctonum var. moldavicum, Aconitum variegatum subsp. moldavicum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum is commonly known as wolf's bane. This plant is highly toxic to humans. Ingesting any part of wolf's bane can lead to severe poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning typically begin with gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea and vomiting, followed by a sensation of tingling, numbness, and burning in the mouth and face. The plant's toxins, particularly aconitine, can then affect the heart and central nervous system, which may result in an irregular heartbeat, confusion, seizures, and potentially death due to cardiorespiratory arrest if medical intervention is not promptly received.

    • To pets

      Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum, commonly referred to as wolf's bane, is highly toxic to pets. Consumption of any part of the wolf's bane plant can lead to severe and potentially fatal poisoning in pets. The symptoms of poisoning in pets are similar to those in humans and often begin with signs of gastrointestinal upset, including salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can progress to more severe symptoms such as paralysis, heart arrhythmias, and seizures. Systemic involvement may lead to sudden death due to heart failure. Immediate veterinary care is crucial if a pet ingests any part of this plant.

  • 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 use: Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum, commonly known as wolf's bane, is often grown in gardens for its attractive spike-like inflorescences and deep purple flowers, which can add aesthetic value to landscapes.
    • Wildlife habitat: The plant can provide shelter and habitat for various insects and small animals within a garden setting.
    • Biodiversity support: It can contribute to the biodiversity of an area by supporting a range of insect species, including bees and butterflies, which are important pollinators.
    • Traditional use: In some cultures, different parts of the wolf's bane plant have been used historically in non-medical traditional practices for various purposes.
    • Educational interest: The plant can be of interest in educational settings, such as botanical gardens or biodiversity studies, where it serves as an example of the Ranunculaceae family.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Analgesic: Traditionally used to alleviate pain, although its use is highly dangerous due to its toxic nature.
    • Anti-inflammatory: May have been used to reduce inflammation, but the risks typically outweigh any potential benefits.
    • Febrifuge: Historically might have been used to reduce fever; however, safer alternatives are now available.
    • Anodyne: Was used in the past to relieve minor pain, despite the high toxicity of the plant.
    • Purgative: Utilized in small doses in traditional medicine to induce vomiting, but its use is not safe due to toxicity.
    This plant is not used for medical purposes, due to its high toxicity and the availability of safer alternatives.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Aconitum lycoctonum, commonly known as northern wolfsbane, has historically been used in hunting by coating arrow tips to quickly incapacitate prey due to its toxic properties.
    • In some traditions, dried parts of northern wolfsbane were used in rituals and superstitious practices for protection against evil spirits or supernatural harm.
    • Northern wolfsbane has been used in the dyeing industry, where extracts from the plant could provide a source of greenish or yellowish pigments for fabrics.
    • The plant has been used in gardens for its aesthetic qualities; with its hooded flowers and tall structure, it adds vertical interest to plantings.
    • Some beekeepers have used northern wolfsbane strategically in planting to attract pollinators, despite its toxic nature, as bees are not affected by its poison.
    • In certain folklore, northern wolfsbane was thought to have magical properties and was used in potions and charms, though this is not recommended due to its toxicity.
    • The leaves of northern wolfsbane have been occasionally used as a natural insecticide, particularly in granaries to protect stored grains from pests.
    • Horticulturalists may use northern wolfsbane as a deer-resistant plant, as its toxicity deters grazing by deer and other herbivores.
    • The plant's appearance has inspired artists and has been featured in various works of art, from paintings to literary references, often symbolizing caution or danger.
    • In the past, northern wolfsbane was sometimes used in ceremonies as an offering or symbol of resilience and respect for nature's potency.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Wolfsbane is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Wolfsbane is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Caution and Danger: Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum, commonly known as Wolfsbane, is often associated with danger due to its poison which was historically used to kill wolves.
    • Protection: Despite its toxicity, Wolfsbane is sometimes considered a symbol of protection as it was thought to ward off evil spirits and supernatural creatures.
    • Misunderstanding: This plant can symbolize misunderstanding, as it has a deceptively beautiful appearance that belies its deadly nature.
    • Death: Because of its lethal poison, Wolfsbane is also associated with death and was used in the past to create poisons for arrows and weapons.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    For the Northern Wolfsbane, watering should be done when the top inch of soil feels dry, avoiding a fixed schedule to best respond to the plant's needs. Use enough water to moisten the soil throughout the pot, which might require about 16-24 ounces, depending on the pot size. In general, during the growing season, watering may be needed once every week, but ensure the soil is not waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter to prevent root rot. Always water at the base and avoid wetting the foliage to prevent fungal diseases.

  • sunLight

    The Northern Wolfsbane thrives best in partial shade, where bright but indirect light is received. Do not place it in full, direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves. Ideally, a spot that receives morning light and afternoon shade, or dappled sunlight under a tree canopy, would be perfect for this plant’s growth and foliage display.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Northern Wolfsbane prefers cool to moderate temperatures, thriving ideally in a range from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive minimum temperatures down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit but should be protected from extreme cold. During hot summer days, ensure it is not subject to temperatures exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as high heat can stress the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune the Northern Wolfsbane in the late winter or early spring just before new growth begins. This allows removal of dead or damaged foliage and helps shape the plant for the upcoming season. Cut back the old stems to the base to encourage healthy new growth, and deadhead regularly during the flowering season to promote further blooms. Pruning is typically needed once a year, but always inspect for damaged or diseased parts that may require immediate attention.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    For the Northern wolfsbane, mix loamy soil with organic compost and sand to improve drainage; the best pH range is between 6.0 to 7.5 to favor its growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Northern wolfsbane should be repotted every 2-3 years, or when the plant outgrows its current pot.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Northern wolfsbane prefers moderate humidity levels, neither too dry nor excessively humid, to thrive well.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright, indirect light and cool temperatures for indoor Northern wolfsbane.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Northern wolfsbane in dappled shade with moist, fertile soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum, commonly known as Northern Wolfsbane, begins its life cycle as a dormant seed, typically requiring a period of cold to break dormancy (a process termed stratification). After germination, it progresses to a seedling stage, where it establishes roots and begins to grow leaves. As it matures, it develops a robust root system and foliage, eventually producing distinctive hooded flowers which are usually a pale yellow color during the flowering stage in mid to late summer. These flowers are then pollinated by insects, leading to the development of fruits which contain seeds that are dispersed by various means, including wind, water, and animals. After seed dispersal, the plant enters a period of senescence as the above-ground portions die back, while the roots may remain viable to sprout again the following year, continuing its perennial life cycle. During winter, the plant is dormant, conserving energy to begin the cycle anew in spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • The most popular method of propagating Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum, commonly known as Northern Wolfsbane, is by seed. Sowing should take place in early spring, ideally in a cold frame or sheltered outdoor area where they can acclimatize to the natural conditions. To sow, scatter the seeds thinly on moist, well-drained soil and cover them with a very light layer of soil or perlite. Germination can be irregular, sometimes taking several weeks or even a few months, so patience is key. Once the seedlings develop true leaves and are large enough to handle, typically a few inches tall, they can be transplanted into individual pots and allowed to grow on until they are strong enough to be planted in their final position in the garden.