Aconitum columbianum “Columbian Monkshood” Ranunculaceae

Great Burn, Lolo National Forest, MT
July 10, 2015
Robert Niese

 

Also known as Wolf’s Bane, Aconite, and Queen of all Poisons, members of the monkshood genus are world famous for the toxins they produce. The name Aconitum is believed to come from a Greek phrase that means “without struggle,” which is, of course, a reference to its swift lethality. Throughout the millennia, aconite has been utilized in countless murders, including the murder of Ptolemy XIV by his sister, Cleopatra. The poisons produced by this plant are so potent that simply brushing up against them can reportedly cause death. Here in the PNW, some native peoples once coated their spears and arrows in monkshood poisons to paralyze large game such as bears, wolves, and even whales.

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