Monkshood Aconitum carmichaelii (Wilsonii Group) 'Spätlese'

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


Aconitum carmichaelii (Wilsonii Group) 'Spätlese', commonly known as Monkshood, has a notable appearance characterized by its striking inflorescences. The plant boasts upright spikes of hooded flowers, which are a captivating deep blue to violet-blue in color, creating an impressive display in the garden. The name 'Monkshood' comes from the distinctive shape of the flowers, reminiscent of the hoods worn by medieval monks. The foliage of Monkshood is equally attractive, with leaves that are deeply divided into lobes, often with a glossy appearance and a rich green hue. These leaves provide a lush backdrop for the showy flowers, which bloom atop the erect, sturdy stems that rise from the base of the plant. The blooms typically appear in late summer to early fall, adding a splash of color as many other garden plants begin to fade. While Monkshood's appearance is quite beautiful, it's important to note that the plant is very toxic, and care should be taken to avoid ingestion and to wear gloves when handling it, as the toxicity is present in all parts of the plant.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Azure Monkshood, Carmichael's Monkshood

    • Common names

      Aconitum carmichaelii 'Wilsonii Group', Aconitum wilsonii 'Spätlese'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Monkshood, is highly toxic to humans. All parts of the plant, especially roots and tubers, contain a potent neurotoxin known as aconitine, which can be deadly if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning include a burning sensation in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, and a tingling or numbness throughout the body. Severe cases may lead to heart arrhythmias, paralysis, and ultimately respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. Even handling the plant without proper protection may result in the absorption of toxins through the skin. Extreme caution should be exercised to avoid accidental ingestion or contact with mucous membranes.

    • To pets

      Monkshood is also highly toxic to pets, with all parts of the plant containing the dangerous neurotoxin aconitine. If a pet ingests any part of the Monkshood plant, symptoms are likely to be similar to those in humans and can include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and a noticeable change in heart rate. Nervous system effects such as weakness, paralysis, seizures, or difficulty breathing can also occur. These symptoms can rapidly progress to life-threatening conditions, and thus immediate veterinary attention is crucial to prevent fatal outcomes. Owners should ensure that their pets do not have access to this plant due to its high level of toxicity.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-4 feet (60-120 cm)

    • Spread

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Aconitum carmichaelii 'Spätlese', commonly known as Monkshood, offers tall spires of deep blue to violet flowers that add a vertical element and vibrant color to gardens.
    • Attracts Pollinators: The flowers of Monkshood are attractive to bees and other pollinating insects, supporting local biodiversity.
    • Late Blooming: Blooming late in the season, typically in late summer to fall, Monkshood provides color and interest when many other plants have finished flowering.
    • Shade Tolerance: Monkshood can thrive in part-shade, making it suitable for garden areas that do not receive full sunlight.
    • Deer and Rabbit Resistant: The plant is seldom eaten by deer and rabbits, which makes it a good choice for gardens plagued by these animals.
    • Hardy Perennial: As a hardy perennial, Monkshood returns year after year, offering a reliable presence in the landscape with minimal need for replanting.
    • Cut Flowers: The flowers are suitable for cutting and can be used to create striking arrangements for indoor enjoyment.
    • Vertical Interest: Its tall, upright habit can be used to create vertical layers in garden design, adding structure and depth.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Analgesic: Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to reduce pain.
    • Anti-inflammatory: May be used to decrease inflammation in certain conditions.
    • Cardiotonic: Sometimes used to strengthen the heart and improve circulation.
    • Febrifuge: Employed to reduce fever by traditional practitioners.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Monkshood 'Spätlese' can be used as a dramatic backdrop in floral arrangements, especially for autumn-themed events, due to its deep blue to violet flowers.
    • The plant can function as a teaching tool in educational gardens to illustrate the concept of poisonous plants and the importance of plant safety.
    • Utilized in natural dye making, the roots of Monkshood 'Spätlese' could potentially yield a blue or green dye, though it must be handled with extreme care due to its toxicity.
    • Monkshood 'Spätlese' offers a habitat and food source for certain species of moths and butterflies whose larvae are adapted to its toxic properties.
    • The plant can be used in crime or thriller media, as a plot device, given its history as a traditional poison.
    • Used in a gothic themed garden, it helps create a mysterious or eerie atmosphere with its tall spikes of dark flowers.
    • In large gardens or rural landscapes, Monkshood 'Spätlese' can play a role in natural pest management by being part of a plant barrier discouraging certain animals sensitive to its toxicity.
    • The intense colors of Monkshood 'Spätlese' flowers could be used as a source of inspiration for artists and designers, particularly for fall color palettes.
    • Photographers might seek out Monkshood 'Spätlese' to capture the beauty and complexity of its flowers, using it as a subject for botanical photography.
    • The plant's distinctive look and toxicity can serve as conversation starters about the importance of biodiversity and plant conservation.

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, commonly known as Monkshood, is known for its toxic properties. This symbolism comes from the plant's historical use as a poison, which leads to it representing caution or warning against danger.
    • Protection: Despite its toxic nature, or perhaps because of it, Monkshood is also seen as a protective plant, symbolizing a defense against threats and harm, having been used to repel werewolves and evil spirits in folklore.
    • Misfortune: Monkshood is sometimes associated with bad luck or misfortune, likely due to the potential negative consequences if it is not handled with care.
    • Chivalry: In certain traditions, this plant is a symbol of chivalry, as knights would purportedly carry Monkshood to protect themselves and signify their bravery, given the courage required to handle such a dangerous plant.
    • Deceit: Because it looks beautiful yet hides a deadly nature, Monkshood can represent deceit, secrecy, or hidden dangers.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 3-4 years
Early Spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Monkshood 'Spätlese' should be watered deeply once a week, ensuring that the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water at the base of the plant, avoiding overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases. During dry periods, it may require additional water, but always check the soil moisture first. Provide approximately one to two gallons of water per plant, depending on the size and the environmental conditions. Adjust watering frequency during the winter when the plant is dormant and requires less moisture.

  • sunLight

    Monkshood 'Spätlese' performs best in partial shade to full sun. An ideal spot would be where it gets morning sun and protection from the intense afternoon heat. Ensure that the plant receives at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight daily for optimum growth and flower production. If planted in too much shade, flowering may be reduced, and the plant can become leggy.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Monkshood 'Spätlese' thrives in cool to moderate temperatures, ideally ranging between 50°F and 75°F. While it can withstand a minimum temperature of around 30°F, frost can damage the foliage, and prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing is not advisable. This plant prefers cooler summer temperatures and does not fare well in extreme heat above 80°F, which can stress the plant and lead to poor growth.

  • scissorsPruning

    Monkshood 'Spätlese' should be pruned to remove spent flowers and encourage further blooming. Prune in the late fall or early spring to tidy up the plant and remove any dead or damaged stems. Pruning during the dormant season helps prevent diseases and promotes healthier growth in the spring. It's unnecessary to prune frequently; once per season is sufficient.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Monkshood 'Spätlese' thrives in moist, well-drained soil with ample organic matter. The best soil mix might include loamy garden soil, peat, and perlite to improve drainage. The soil pH should ideally be slightly acidic to neutral, around 6.5 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Monkshood 'Spätlese' is typically a perennial grown outdoors and does not require frequent repotting when established in the garden. If grown in containers, they should be repotted every 2-3 years or when the plant outgrows its current pot.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Monkshood 'Spätlese' prefers average humidity conditions and does well in the humidity levels found naturally outdoors. It does not require any special humidity adjustments when grown in its natural environment.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright, indirect light and consistent moisture.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, keep soil moist, mulch.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA.

  • circleLife cycle

    Aconitum carmichaelii 'Spätlese', commonly known as Monkshood, begins its life cycle when the seeds are sown in the soil, ideally in early spring or after the last frost for cold climates. The seeds germinate and the plant emerges as a seedling, developing a rosette of leaves at the base. As it matures, the stem elongates and the plant forms a clump with deeply divided, dark green leaves. During late summer to early fall, the Monkshood 'Spätlese' produces tall spikes of deep blue to purple hooded flowers, which are particularly attractive to bees and butterflies. After pollination, typically by insects, the flowers develop into follicles containing seeds, which can be dispersed by wind or wildlife. During winter, the plant dies back to the ground before resuming its cycle from the rootstock the following spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early Spring

    • The most popular method of propagation for Aconitum carmichaelii (Wilsonii Group) 'Spätlese', commonly known as Monkshood 'Spätlese', is by division. The best time to divide this perennial is in early spring as the plant emerges from dormancy, when the soil is moist but not waterlogged. To propagate, carefully dig up an established clump of Monkshood 'Spätlese' and shake or wash off excess soil to reveal the root system. Using a sharp, sterile knife or spade, divide the clump into smaller sections, ensuring that each section contains at least two to three healthy buds or shoots. These divided segments can then be replanted in the garden at the same depth they were previously growing, spaced about 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) apart to allow for mature growth. Water the new plantings well to help establish roots and reduce transplant shock.