Monkshood Aconitum carmichaelii Wilsonii Group

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


Aconitum carmichaelii 'Wilsonii Group', commonly known as Monkshood, has a striking appearance with upright stems carrying hooded, deep blue to violet flowers that resemble a medieval cowl. The plant bears lush green leaves which are palmately lobed, giving them a hand-like shape with deep cuts. The flowers are arranged in dense, elongated clusters at the top of the stems, adding a bold and dramatic effect to the garden. This perennial's blossoms are particularly noted for their uniform color and helmet-like shape, reminiscent of the attire once worn by monks, hence the common name. Overall, the plant exudes a stately and somewhat mysterious presence, with its unique flower shape and rich, vivid coloring.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Wilson's Monkshood, Carmichael's Monkshood, Chinese Aconite

    • Common names

      Aconitum carmichaelii var. wilsonii, Aconitum wilsonii, Aconitum kusnezoffii var. wilsonii, Aconitum carmichaelii.

  • 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 Wilsonii Group, commonly known as Monkshood, has striking blue or purple flowers that add aesthetic value to gardens.
    • Pollinator Attraction: Monkshood flowers can attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, which are essential for the pollination of many plants.
    • Late-Season Blooming: It blooms in late summer to fall, providing color and interest in the garden when many other plants have finished flowering.
    • Tolerance of Shade: Monkshood can thrive in partially shaded conditions, making it suitable for woodland gardens or shady areas.
    • Vertical Interest: The tall, spiky flower stalks of Monkshood add vertical interest to garden beds and borders.
    • Deer and Rabbit Resistance: Monkshood is generally resistant to browsing by deer and rabbits, which can be beneficial in areas where these animals are a problem.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Analgesic: Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to alleviate pain.
    • Anti-inflammatory: Employed to reduce inflammation in traditional healing practices.
    • Cardiovascular effects: Contains alkaloids that can affect heart function.
    • Anodyne: Used historically to lessen severe pain.
    • Febrifuge: Used in folk medicine to reduce fever.
    • Sedative: Sometimes utilized for its sedative effects in historical medicine.
    Please note that Aconitum species, including Aconitum carmichaelii (Chinese monkshood), contain toxic alkaloids and should be handled with extreme care. Use of this plant for medical purposes should be under the direction of qualified healthcare professionals and is not recommended without proper supervision due to its toxic nature.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Aconitum carmichaelii, commonly known as Monkshood, has been used traditionally to create vibrant blue dyes for fabrics due to its intense blue flower color.
    • The roots of Monkshood have occasionally been used as an insecticide in organic gardening, although extreme caution is necessary due to its toxicity.
    • Monkshood can be planted as a part of a wildlife garden aimed at attracting and providing habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
    • The plant has been used as a component in long-lasting flower arrangements, especially during the Halloween season, due to its association with folklore and superstition.
    • Monkshood's seed pods have an ornamental quality and may be used in dried flower crafts and arrangements after they have fully matured and dried out.
    • In history, extracts from Monkshood were used to poison arrow tips for hunting and warfare, although this practice is not advised due to its high toxicity and legal issues.
    • The distinctive hooded appearance of its flowers makes Monkshood a popular choice for thematic gardens, such as gothic or 'witches' gardens.
    • Since Monkshood is highly toxic, it can be used as a natural deterrent to keep herbivores like deer and rabbits away from more desirable garden plants.
    • During medieval times, Monkshood was sometimes included in potions and witches' brews, primarily in folklore and myth rather than actual practice due to its toxic nature.
    • The plant can be cultivated for use in educational settings, such as botanical gardens and poison gardens, to teach about plant toxicity and the importance of plant identification.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    Monkshood is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Monkshood is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Caution and Danger – Aconitum, commonly known as Monkshood, has been associated with danger due to its highly toxic nature if ingested. The plant's history of use in poisons and potions adds to its ominous reputation.
    • Protection – Despite its toxicity, Monkshood has also been used symbolically for protection against evil spirits and supernatural harm, harkening back to ancient folklore and traditions.
    • Misunderstanding – The dual nature of Monkshood, beautiful yet deadly, can represent the idea of misunderstanding or things not being as they appear on the surface.
    • Witchcraft – Because of its use in historical potions and its toxic properties, Monkshood is often associated with witchcraft and magic, symbolizing mystery and the occult.
    • Power – Monkshood's potent properties have made it symbolize power, particularly the power to harm or protect, reflecting the plant's potential uses.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Late summer to early fall
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Monkshood should be watered regularly to maintain evenly moist soil, especially during the growing season. It is typically best to water this plant deeply once or twice a week, depending on the climate and weather conditions. Each watering session should provide enough water to soak the soil to a depth of several inches. In terms of volume, aim for about 1 to 1.5 gallons per plant for each watering session. During hot, dry spells, additional watering may be necessary to prevent the soil from drying out.

  • sunLight

    The Monkshood thrives best in partial shade to full sun. Ideally, plant it where it can receive morning sun and afternoon shade, or dappled sunlight throughout the day, as too much direct, hot sun can lead to leaf scorch. This balance helps ensure vibrant blooms and a healthy plant.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Monkshood grows well in a range of temperatures, thriving in areas where the summer temperatures hover between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, but it's important to protect it from harsh winter winds. At the height of summer, if temperatures consistently reach above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant may suffer from heat stress.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Monkshood in late fall or early spring to remove spent flower stalks and any damaged or dead foliage. This promotes better air circulation and reduces the risk of disease. Cutting back the plant after the first flush of flowers can also encourage a second bloom. It’s generally recommended to prune Monkshood every year to maintain its shape and encourage healthy growth.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Monkshood prefers a moist, well-draining soil rich in organic matter, with a pH range between 5.5 and 7.5. For the best soil mix, blend equal parts of loamy garden soil, peat or compost, and sand to ensure proper drainage and fertility.

  • plantRepotting

    Monkshood generally does not need frequent repotting and can be repotted every 2-3 years or when it outgrows its current container, being careful with its root system as it gets established.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Monkshood thrives in average to moderately high humidity levels, but it is not particularly humidity-sensitive, and typical outdoor humidity conditions are usually adequate for its growth.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Keep Monkshood in bright, indirect light and cool temperatures indoors.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Monkshood in partial shade, moist soil, and shelter from strong winds.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Aconitum carmichaelii Wilsonii Group, commonly known as Azure Monkshood, begins its life as a seed that germinates in spring when temperatures are mild and moisture is adequate. The seedling emerges and develops into a vegetative plant with characteristic deeply divided, dark green leaves. Throughout the growing season, the plant matures and produces tall spires of vibrant blue-purple hooded flowers in late summer to early fall, attracting pollinators such as bees. After flowering, the plant sets seeds which are dispersed by wind or wildlife before the onset of winter. In winter, the plant dies back to its tuberous rootstock to survive the cold. Come the following spring, Azure Monkshood resumes growth from the rootstock, repeating its life cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Late summer to early fall

    • Aconitum carmichaelii, also known as Monkshood, is typically propagated through division. The best time to carry out this process is in the early spring as the plant emerges from dormancy. To propagate by division, carefully dig up the plant, making sure to keep as much of the root system intact as possible. Gently separate the crown of the plant into smaller segments, ensuring that each new section has at least one shoot and a portion of the root system attached. Replant the divisions at the same depth they were growing previously, spacing them about 18 inches (approximately 45.7 centimeters) apart to provide ample room for growth. After replanting, water the divisions thoroughly to help establish them in their new location.