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Monkshood

Aconitum napellus

Description:

This is a very tall herbaceous plant, growing up to 150 cm or more. Its stem is topped by racemes of large blue and unmistakable flowers. One of the five sepals forms a characteristic "helmet" or "hood" like structure. The fruit is an aggregate of follicles, each follicle being a dry elongated boxlike structure bearing many seeds (photos n° 4 & 5). The leaves are dark green, and palmately lobed with five to seven segments; each segment is trilobed with coarse sharp teeth. The Monkshood is also known as aconite (as many other species in this gender), leopard's bane and many other names; and are often confused with Wolfsbane, whose flowers are yellow.

Habitat:

Here, seen in a small valley in Jura mountain Range, around the lake Lamoura - the highest altitude lake in Jura Mountain range, at 1156m. The valley is surrounded by a coniferous forest, and the majority of it is occupied by grassland, while some of the lake shores are peat-bogs. The site of Lamoura Lake has been designated as a Natura 2000 area, in order to protect this fragile peatbog ecosystem.

Notes:

Many species from Aconite genus are potently poisonous, and contain several poisonous compounds, all highly toxic. Literature has it that extracts of Aconites were used on spears and arrows for hunting and battle; but also that it was used as poison to eliminate enemies throughout history. And important notice (even though the sources do not agree on this point) : it was reported that one of toxic components, the aconitine, can be absorbed through the skin so that poisoning may also occur following picking the leaves without wearing gloves...

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3 Comments

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a year ago

Well done, Ziatan!

Zlatan Celebic
Zlatan Celebic a year ago

Wow! Many thanks all

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

Congratulations Zlatan, your Monkshood is our Spotting of the Day! Great series and information.

"A flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae with striking purple helmet-shaped flowers, this Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) is our Spotting of the Day! Beware though: all parts of the plant contain the highly toxic compound aconitine. As part of their defense system against herbivorous insects, many plants produce toxic compounds that disturb neuronal signals in insects that may feed on them. Preferential targets of these plant products include vital cell components known as ion channels. Because these targets have been highly conserved throughout evolution, these plant products are sometimes also toxic for mammals. In mammals, aconitine affects excitable tissues such as cardiac and skeletal muscles and neurons.
To learn more about aconitine: https://buff.ly/2BzlgbU "

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Zlatan Celebic
Spotted by
Zlatan Celebic

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Tromelin Island

Lat: 46.40, Long: 5.98

Spotted on Aug 5, 2018
Submitted on Aug 21, 2018

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