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Their particular appearance and their poisonousness gave rise to myths and legends, which have always indicated the aconite as the flower of revenge and guilty love. Greek mythology tells that Cerberus, a three-headed dog from Hecate, queen of Hades, brought aconite seeds into the foam. When Hercules kidnapped the beast, dragging it foaming with rage on the earth, it favored the spread of the seeds along the way; This is how the aconite seeds arrived in this world. According to the Norwegian tradition this flower represented, for its particular shape, the Helm of Odin, the most valiant Teutonic warrior. This special hat gave anyone who wore it the magical power to make themselves invisible to men. The Christian religion considers it the hood of the monks. In France it is popularly called the Venus chariot.


The aconite (also called Jupiter's helmet) are very simple plants to cultivate that adapt well to both sunny and slightly more shady locations. They can be usefully used in flowerbeds or mixed borders to give verticality, perhaps alternating with delphinium or lupine. They are also able to create beautiful color contrasts thanks to the wide range of colors in which they are declined.
We only need to pay some attention if there are children or pets in our garden: it is in fact a particularly toxic herbaceous plant (one of the most poisonous plants that can be found spontaneously in Europe). In those cases it is good to place individuals in areas that are difficult to reach and also to avoid being touched, since the alkaloid is so dangerous that it can penetrate even through the skin.

Family and gender
Ranunculaceae, gen. aconitum, more than 300 species
Type of plant Perennial arbaceous with tuberous roots
Exposure Half shade, sun
Rusticitа Very rustic
Ground Fresh and rich, even slightly calcareous
Irrigation Frequent, without stagnation
Composting Regular, from March to October
colors Blue, purple, lavender, white, pink, yellow, green
Flowering Depending on the species, from May until November
Crop care Cleaning and removal of used flowers
Note Attention, very poisonous plant

Description and classification aconite

The genus Aconitum includes about 300 species coming from the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere, especially from Asia; those cultivated are few though. Most are herbaceous plants with tuberous rhizomes; the leaves are deep green, more or less rounded and divided into lobes, from three to seven, each of which can be serrated or further divided into narrower lobes which, in some cases, give the whole a feathery and light appearance.
Over time the basal leaves become quite ugly until they almost disappear. This is why, for the whole to be decorative, it is always advisable to insert the aconite in the second or third floor so that the foot is hidden by other lower essences in the front.
The flowers range from blue to purple, but even rarer shapes are available in white, pink or even yellow. They develop in spike-shaped apical inflorescences. In some species they are already present in mid-spring (generally May), in others it is instead necessary to wait for at least midsummer, if not autumn.
In reality the ornamental part of the flower is represented not by the petals, but by the tepals. The upper one is called a helmet and has the characteristic shape of a hood. The true petals of the flower are actually very small in size.

A bit of history

Aconite has been known since ancient times for the toxic activity of its alkaloids. It was indeed used to poison the wells and aquifers of the enemies. It was also common to use it to poison the arrowheads.
According to a Greek legend he was born from the burr of Cerberus, a dog with three heads of the underworld.
In the Middle Ages it also began to be considered a magical plant. She was given the ability to ward off werewolves, vampires, and other evil beings. It was also used in folk medicine, although not always successfully.



Aconite is a very rustic herbaceous and is rarely damaged by the rigors of winter. It can easily withstand temperatures even around -20 ° C. If we carry out the planting during the autumn it can be useful to mulch, for the first year, the foot with very mature manure or straw.


They are not particularly demanding, however, in order to grow and flourish at their best, they need a substrate that is as similar as possible to that of its habitats of origin. In nature, in fact, we can find these plants in mountain meadows or on the edge of the woods.
Therefore, they need a soil rich in organic matter, well ventilated and drained, but which has the ability to remain fresh.
Substrates that are too light, poor or sandy are to be avoided, because the roots need continuous humidity.


The ideal exposure for the aconite it is surely the half-shade, in an area tendentially humid.
However they are able to grow well even in full sun, especially if the soil and irrigation are adequate.


In the absence of rainfall, irrigation must always be constant. If we live in the Center-South and / or if the plant is more exposed to the sun the interventions will have to be rather close, even more times a week. Always make sure that the soil never dries completely, but at the same time, we avoid persistent water stagnation.
To delay the interventions it is advisable to prepare a good mulching of the foot during the hot seasons. The ideal materials are leaves, straw or hay. Furthermore we can cover the lower part by helping ourselves with other herbaceous plants which, moreover, will not highlight the progressive desiccation of the basal leaves.


Some species and some hybrids are able to maintain a beautiful flowering from May until even in November.
To always have an abundant production and corollas of bright colors it is good to administer once a week a liquid product for flowering plants, with a good potassium content.
Slow release granular fertilizers are also an excellent alternative and generally should be administered twice a year, at the end of winter and at the beginning of summer.


The best time for planting is undoubtedly the autumn: in this way the specimens will have plenty of time to develop a good root system on site and in the spring they will grow more vigorously, all for the benefit of a more copious flowering.
However, especially where winters are very cold, you can also proceed towards the end of February.
Small holes must be dug, with a diameter and depth approximately double compared to the jar. Place a handful of manure on the bottom, extract the plant, insert it in the hole and cover with the soil, pressing firmly. Make sure the collar is at the same level as when it was in the jar.
We irrigate abundantly and continue to keep the soil moist until the end of the summer.
Important note: we always wear gloves when we handle the aconite, because all its parts (and especially the roots) are extremely poisonous!


New seedlings can be obtained by sowing or by dividing the head.
If we buy the seeds we can proceed in the spring, placing them in a cold box and keeping them always moist, at a temperature of about 18 ° C. Germination is rather slow.
If we have personally harvested the seeds it is instead necessary to vernalize them, then keep them in a damp and cold environment for a few months. We can then leave them outside during the winter or put them in small containers with wet sand inside the refrigerator.
The division is generally carried out in autumn, when the plant enters vegetative rest. The specimens are extracted from the earth and the various plants are separated using small pitchforks. We can put them back directly. This operation can be repeated every three or four years.

Aconite: Parasites and Diseases

Aconites are very rustic plants and not very sensitive to diseases and parasites. Nevertheless, in case of too persistent humidity at the level of the roots and leaves, it may happen that oidium or verticillosis is present. Both can bring the plant to death.
To prevent the onset of these problems, you must always place the plants in an area where water does not risk becoming stagnant. Irrigations must be frequent, but excesses must be avoided.
  • Aconite

    Aconite is a genus of spermatophyte plants with two cotyledons, belonging to the Ranuncola family

    visit: aconite

first nameflowersFlowering periodheightfeatures
Blue scepter Blue, perfumed terminal ears July August 70 cm hybrid
Bressingham Spire Blue-violet August September Up to 1 m Leaves dark green, erect, with many secondary ears

Eleanora white suffused with blue
From June to August
From 60 to 150 cm Leaves deeply lobed
Bicolor white with blue margins Up to 120 cm 
Grandiflorum white albums Up to 110 cm Green buds
Pink sensation pale pink Up to 100 cm 

Sp. Blue lavender Autumn From 60 cm to 2 meters Dark green leaves, large flowers, from China and Vietnam
Lavender blue arendsii September October 120 cm Very abundant flowering
Intense blue royal flush September October 1.5 cm Bright red leaves in spring
Blue lavender Baker's variety September October 1.5 cm
Kelmscott lavender intense September October 1.5 m 
Spatlese light lavender September October 1.5 m 

Gray, purple, green, blue, burgundy July to October 2-5 meters Climbing vine with leaves similar to those of the vines, bunches from 2 to 12 flowers. From China. A. blue purple spark July September Up to 1.5 Short ears with lots of little flowers, dark leaves

Violet, blue, yellowish or cream white From June to August Up to 2 meters From Asia, Europe and Africa
Subsp dark violet lycoctonum  60-150 cm 
Subsp. Pale yellow Neapolitanum  Up to 120 cm From southern Europe
Subsp. Pale yellow vulparia  Up to 120 cm France, Holland

Purple or blue From May to June Up to 3 m From Europe, Asia and North America
Dark blue Bergfurst  1.2 meters 
Blue blue valley July and August 1 m Many small flowers
Subsp. Anglicanum lavender May and June Up to 90 cm 
Rubellum rosé  1.5 m 
White albidum July August 1.5 m 
Pink meat carneum July August 1.5 m