Known by some of the most glamorous monikers, this herbaceous perennial plant has a fairly colorful history.
Some of the more famous and intriguing titles for this flowering plant include ‘Wolfsbane’, ‘Monkshood’, and ‘queen of poison’. However, its scientific name ‘Aconitum’ is possibly a derivative of a Greek word meaning Javelin. Spears, darts, and Javelins used to be poisoned by aconite and used to hunt wolves. The name monkshood refers to the tubular covering of the flower that looks like the hoods monks wore in Europe.
Aconite grows naturally in the hilly regions of North America, Europe, and Asia: it grows in soil that holds moisture but drains well. Mountainous meadows such as the mountains where the plants are native to, therefore are what Aconite needs to flourish. Scientifically known as Aconitum, the plant is a genus that includes over 250 species of flowering plants.
The plant is a fairly dangerous one, even though it is cultivated and has indeed won multiple gardening awards. Aconite is a powerful neurotoxin that can be fatal if ingested directly. It can paralyze the heart, cause numbness and motor frailty, among other symptoms.
What does Aconite symbolize?
The most common symbolism found in mythology or stories related to the beautiful flowering plant is Death. This is not surprising considering that it is an extremely poisonous plant. It is also a plant that has been long associated with the supernatural. From Dracula to Harry Potter, wolfbane rears its hooded head as potent protection against malicious paranormal villains. However, this association is not one cemented in modern times. The Greeks believed that the flowers were birthed from the deadly drool of hell’s own hound, Cerberus. In the medieval era, the plant was thought to award witches with supernatural abilities.
However, its most famous association with the supernatural is its link with wolved. During the Middle Ages, when the fear of werewolves took hold of the public imagination, most turned to wolfbane. However, others alleged that touching the plant on nights of the full moon actually caused people to shift into werewolves. Thus, due to such an association, the flowers also symbolize madness. They are flowers that have been associated with nerves, anxiety, and delusions since time immemorial. Medieval doctors even prescribed the poison as a remedy for such delusions, which in many cases led to the death of the patient.
Eventually, the plants came to symbolize not just death, but also deceit, murder, dark magic, and gloomy, Moorish misanthropy.
Aconite Colors meaning
Though the plant has over 200 species, let’s look at some colors and their meanings. Different species have different colors, however, these three colors are seen in almost all species and varieties.
Technically classified as Aconitum Anthora, this particular plant yields soft yellow flowers. Though they may look innocent, like all queens of poison, these flowers aren’t. Yellow as a color signifies warmth and creativity. However, it also represents deception and caution- two of which have been associated with aconite flower meanings. This makes a yellow aconite flower even more malicious, as its bright exterior hides a dangerous outcome. In many ways then, the yellow aconite flower meaning can be seen as a special warning. It is a warning that even when all looks beautiful and well, that is not the case, and caution is to be practiced.
Also known as ‘Carmichael’s Monkshood’, these plants mostly grow in eastern Russia and Asia. The plant was known to Chinese herbalists as the Fu Zi, and was used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. This blue variety in the list of aconite flower meanings does check the more positive ones. It symbolizes healing, ancient medicines, etc. However, the blue color, as well as the disorders the plant treats, connects the aconite flower meanings to depression and anxiety- in other words, feeling ‘blue’.
Purple or violet shades are quite common in Aconite flowers. They can be found everywhere that aconite takes root in. Some species are used in Korean medicine to treat aches and pains. Others are used for ornamental purposes as well. The purple variety symbolizes the darker aspects of Wolfsbane. The color purple has long been associated with the mysteriously wicked to the point that Disney has long portrayed its witches to be wearing purple. Thus, the meaning of the purple Aconite flower is that of mystery, murder, poison, and witchcraft.
Aconite interesting facts
Those with a penchant for teenage Vampire dramas would easily recognize the name ‘Wolfsbane’. Long known as the plant that kept both wolves and werewolves away, the name has cemented itself in popular culture recently. With the resurgence of Vampires and other mythical creatures, Wolfsbane harks back to its Greek roots where they used these poisonous plants to hunt wolves. As the superstitious ways of the medieval era started to take a hold of Europe, doctors often prescribed fatal doses to those suffering from ‘Lycanthropy’. It was a disorder characterized by delusions of being a wolf or werewolf.
It was also rumored to be a potent witch’s potion. Many legends and myths spoke of invisibility spells, flight, and other superpowers as being bestowed by Aconite. Even in modern stories about the supernatural, aconite still hasn’t shaken off this association.
In more modern times, the plant has found a new home in alternative medicine. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura notes that ‘Aconitum Napellus’ is said to be a wonder medicine for fever, chills, midnight pains, and other related conditions.
Best time to gift someone Aconite flowers
Because Aconite flower meanings are not the brightest, these flowers don’t make the best casual gifts. Its toxic character is another reason they don’t make the best bouquets. It is best to gift the plant only to those who understand how to take care of poisonous plants. People with esoteric interests in witchcraft, herbal medicines, might appreciate receiving such a gift. However, it is always best to ask when gifting something as dangerous as the queen of Poisons.