Main characteristics of the aconite plant

Aconite is a herbaceous plant that grows spontaneously throughout the Italian territory. It belongs to the ranuncolaceae family and is widespread in cool and humid mountain areas. There are about 350 species and all of them contain percentages of aconitine. It is one of the most poisonous acaloid alkaloids known. A few milligrams are enough to cause the death of an individual. Given its toxicity, its use in the official pharmacopoeia is very limited. This herbaceous plant has different sizes ranging from a few centimeters up to a maximum of two meters. In Italy it is present with two different biological forms, namely those that bring the gems below the ground and those that have superficial gems. The aerial part of the stem can be pubescent, branchy or glabrous.

The flowers and fruits of the aconite

The inflorescences of the aconite plant are of two different types: racemic or panicle. In both cases they occur in the apical area of ​​the branches and only in rare cases in the axillary area. The flowers are grouped on the inflorescences for a number equal to or slightly less than thirty units and are all pedunculated. They can have a yellow, white or pink color but in some varieties they have a violet hue tending to blue. The corolla is almost non-existent and the inner petals are the real producers of nectar and have a cylindrical hammer shape. Once the flowering has taken place, the plant begins to develop fruits consisting of capsules which inside contain small seeds with a rough surface with a brown tending to black color.

How it is grown

The aconite plant is simple to grow. It must be planted in a soil rich in organic substances, moist and fresh. Some varieties need to be placed in shady areas and sunlight could seriously damage them. Multiplication almost always occurs by division of the rhizomes. However, the varieties napellus, lycoctonum and paniculatum are spread by sowing. Just bury the seeds in a seedbed filled with plenty of moorland mixed with sand and water regularly to prevent the soil from drying out. Before planting the new plants, wait at least a couple of years. In the event that the winters are particularly harsh, protect them in a heated place.

Aconite: Species and varieties

The varieties present on the European territory are many. One of the most widespread is napellus and its presence is concentrated above all in the area of ​​the Alps and the Carpathians. It thrives in the woods and mountain meadows and has a tuberous rhizome of blackish color which in shape is comparable to that of the turnip. The stem has an erect posture and almost always exceeds one meter in height. Aconite anthora is found exclusively in the Alps and grows to an altitude of 2,000 meters. It has little branched stems and the leaves have very deep incisions on their surface. The flowers are gathered in dense clusters and have a golden yellow color. The lycoctonum variety grows not only in Europe but also in East Asia. It has gold-colored flowers and is also known to most people by the name of she-wolf or wolf choke.

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