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Aconitum cammarum (Jacq,)
Aconitum ˙cammarum L. [1762, Sp. Pl., ed. 2 : 751] (A. napellus, s.l. ˙ variegatum subsp. ? variegatum) C
n.subsp. stoerckianum (Reichenb.) Nyman [1878, Consp. Fl. Eur. : 19] = A. ˙cammarum
The generic name is said to have been derived from a dart, because it was used by barbarous races to poison their arrows, or from akone, cliffy or rocky, because the species grow in rocky glens. Theophrastus, like Pliny, derived the name from Aconae, the supposed place of its origin.
English: Blue Monkshood
German: Rispiger Eisenhut
Tincture from the root.
Angiospermae - Eudicots - Ranunuculales - Ranunculaceae.
Includes Acon. neomontanum, Acon. intermedium and Acon. stoerckianum.
Like Acon. and Aconitine.
Prof. C.D. Schroff (Einiges über Aconitum in Pharmakognostischer, Toxikologischer und Pharmakologischer Hinsicht, written in december 1853.). It contains also many toxicological symptoms.
Description of the substance
It is very much alike Aconitum napellus but this variety is more cultivated as garden plant because of its beautiful flowers.
Also known as Aconite and Wolfsbane; blooms mid-Summer with helmet-shaped flowers; foliage is glossy dark green on loosely branched stems; good for use as cut flowers; prefers a moist and cool soil; white flowers with blue edge. It seems to be cultivated and is sold as a garden plant.
The marvelously unique shape of the blossoms gave rise to the most common name, Monkshood, but other names alluding to its helmet-like shape have included Friar's Cap, Friar's Cowl, Helmet Flower, Soldier's Helmet, Cuckoo's Cap, Turk's Cap, or among ancient Germanic peoples, Thor's Helm, in Scandinavia Stormhatt or Oktober Stormhatt, & in Scotland, Auld Wife's Huid (Old Wife's Hood). Even in Japan, which has its native species of nearly identical appearance, it is called Hana-tori Kabuto, meaning flower-bird samurai helmet.
Still others thought it looked like a little carriage, so it was called King's Coach, Chariot of Venus, or Cupid's Car. The latter two names may have alluded to monkshood as an ingredient in witches' most sought-after product, love potions, though the outcome of using such a filtre is perhaps reflected in another folk-name, Mourning Bride, with the hood in that case seen as a widow's veil. It's association with sorcery lent it yet another baleful name, Witch's Bane. In late medieval times it was thought to be a key ingredient in a potion that permitted witches to fly. Of all its names, Monkshood, Wolfsbane, or Aconite are most used today.
ACONITUM (U. S. P.) Aconite. ACONITI RADIX.—The root is prolonged into a conical tap-root, tuberous, and though smaller, has some resemblance to the common horseradish root, for which it has been mistaken, and eaten with fatal consequences. At the top it seldom exceeds an inch in thickness, and is about 2 to 4 inches long. Externally, it is brown; internally white and fleshy. As found growing, there is usually a rhizome produced from a lateral bud from the tuber. At the extremity of this subterranean stem, another tuber, with a bud for the next year's plant, is developed. This second tuber, in the course of the year, develops a third tuber, so that when dug for commerce it is common to find at least two roots, connected by a short rhizome. Each root has several long, fleshy rootlets. The fresh root has a radish-like odor which is dissipated on drying. The dried root is thus described in the U. S. P.:
From 10 to 20 Mm. (2/5 to 4/5 inches) thick at the crown; conically contracted below; from 50 to 75 Mm. (2 to 3 inches) long, with scars or fragments of radicles; dark-brown externally, whitish internally; with a rather thick bark, the central axis about seven-rayed; without odor; taste at first sweetish, soon becoming acrid, and producing a sensation of tingling and numbness, which lasts for some time"—(U. S. P.).
If of recent growth, it is whitish, internally, and compact, breaking with a short, clean fracture. If, however, the root be of the previous year's growth, it may be porous and of a dark-brown color within, and consequently of less value as a drug.
ACONITI FOLIA.—Aconite leaves are often intermixed with some of the flowers, as well as leaves and blossoms of other blue-flowered species of the family. The leaves are smooth, coriaceous, somewhat rigid, glossy on the upper surface, having a sub-orbicular, or nearly cordate outline, which is deeply (3 to 5) cleft, producing long, narrow, cuneiform segments, deeply incised, and presenting lance-linear teeth. The taste is bitterish and acrid, and gives the well-known characteristic tingling sensation of aconite. They have but little, if any, odor.
History.—Aconite is abundant in the mountainous woodlands of various parts of Europe, especially in France, along the Pyrenees, and in the rocky heights in Germany and Austria, Denmark, and the Scandinavian peninsula, and is abundant in the Alps and the Himalayas, where, with other species, it is found at a height of from 10,000 to 16,000 feet (Pharmacographia). It is plentiful throughout Siberia, and is cultivated to some extent in gardens, both in the United States and Europe, for its floral beauty. It is said to have been naturalized in portions of the British isles.
Aconite tubers and leaves are frequently of very poor quality, and with foreign admixture as found in market, having been gathered without regard to season, species, or quality, by the poor peasants while engaged in watching the grazing herds. The shrivelled and decaying growth of the previous year is, as compared with the recent growth, relatively feebler. The aconites were well known to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. It provided certain native tribes of the East with an active arrow poison. The root should be collected in winter or early spring; the leaves just before the blossoming period, or when the plant has but partially bloomed. The virtues of aconite remain intact upon drying, the whole plant being acrid and fully yielding its medicinal properties to alcohol. Various other plant species are present as admixtures, and especially, according to Holmes (Pharm. Jour., 1877), are substituted the roots of the Imperatoria Ostruthium, Linné. (European masterwort). As the latter tuber is aromatic, its detection is not difficult, though the roots somewhat resemble the aconite tubers. Good aconite is usually known by its characteristic benumbing taste. Aconite was introduced into modern medicine by Baron Störck, of Vienna, about 1762.