Wolfsbane flower: Meaning, Symbolism, and Colors- consist of references to some of the most interesting stories about plants and flowers. The Wolfsbane flower blooms on the extremely poisonous perennial herb Aconitum. The genus Aconitum has more than 200 species and belongs to the Ranunculaceae family.
These herbs are native to the mountains of Europe, Asia and North America. They are also called monkshood, mousebane, and leopard’s bane.
Even though many of the Aconitum species require very careful handling, some hybrids like A.carmichaelii have won awards in gardening contests, and florists use some of them in their business.
The leaves of the wolfsbane plant are usually dark green and deeply palmate with many segments. The tall stem has many racemes with multi-colored flowers. The flowers typically have one of the sepals shaped like a helmet, which gave it the name monkshood.
Wolfsbane flower meaning and symbolism has diverse historical references. It derives its name, like many others from Greek. A popular theory states that the name aconitum comes from the root word, akon which means a dart in Greek. Others believe that it gets its name from the Greek word for a rocky place, where the plant seemed to grow. The closest meaning to aconitum actually comes from lycoctonum, which translates to wolf’sbane. Perhaps, during those times, people had understood its poisonous nature. They might have used this knowledge to hunt and kill predators, particularly wolves, and other animals that targeted their livestock.
What Do Wolfsbane Flowers Symbolize?
Wolfsbane flower meaning and symbolism is identical across the ages. For many cultures, the first word that comes to mind, when it comes to symbolism of wolfsbane flowers, is caution, and sometimes death.
Myths of Greek culture claim that aconite was produced from the saliva dripping from the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of hell. Aconite flowers started to bloom from the spot where the slobber of this dog hit the ground.
The flower was an integral part of witches’ brew in folklore. During the Dark Ages, people had begun to associate wolfsbane flowers with werewolves. They feared that it either caused someone to turn into a werewolf or cured the phenomenon.
Shakespeare, the famous English playwright has referred to the toxicity of Aconitum flowers in many plays, including Henry IV, and also in Hamlet.
Poets like Keats mention it as a poisonous vine.
In movies, wolfsbane flowers were depicted as offering protection against all sorts of vampires.
But the most contemporary of references comes in the famous series, Harry Potter where the flower is used in a magic potion.
No surprises that wolfsbane flowers served to be the perfect weapon of choice for murder plots in various crime and suspense novels and movies.
What Do the Various Colors of the Wolfsbane Flowers Mean?
Wolfsbane flower meaning, symbolism, and colors have a consistent meaning across different ages and cultures. The vast majority of Aconitum flowers are a dark blue-purple color. There are also white, greenish to creamy white and greenish-yellow flowers spotted among various species. A.hemsieyanum, a hybrid variety produces wine red flowers. The flowers exhibit very little fragrance.
The color purple demands respect, and shows elegance and royalty. In eastern cultures, purple refers to a mystic life and ultimate enlightenment. Wolfsbane flower meaning had a connection to the purple color. People find that their mood is elevated with purple flowers in their room. Lavender has proved to possess mosquito-repellant qualities. But a wise man avoids gifting purple wolfsbane flowers to his valentine, for fear of creating mistrust and even hatred. Save this particular bouquet for your enemies.
Wolfsbane flower meaning of white color- You wish to convey elegance and innocence, then white flowers are the way to go. They represent honesty, thoughtful love and purity.
Wolfsbane flower meaning regarding yellow wolfsbane flowers, signal friendship, love for a sibling, or for that matter, to a colleague, if you want to show appreciation for their work.
Blue usually has a calming influence on a person and gets them in a reflective mood. Wolfsbane flower meaning when the flower is blue, is associated with a deep and abiding feeling of trust. Sometimes it creates a feeling of sympathy and wishes the receiver a fast recovery.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Wolfsbane Flowers
- Wolfsbane flower meaning, Symbolism, and Colors- Besides the wild varieties of the wolfsbane plants, a few species, like A.henryi, A.uncinatum among others are also cultivated in gardens. But whether they are wild or cultivated, all species consist of aconitine, a powerful toxin.
- The monkshood variety, A. napellus, native to European mountains and the Himalayas, is known to be the prime source of aconitine. In ancient times, this toxin was given to people accused of crime. It was also found to be useful in reducing fever and treating severe nerve disorders in very small strengths.
- Even though there were certain therapeutic uses for wolfsbane, it was quite difficult to control the dosage. This often led to adverse effects and toxicity. The drug causes serious heart disorders, generalized numbness, in addition to stomach and breathing difficulties.
- Many civilizations like the Chinese, Indian, and ancient European have had a long history of using Aconitum. In fact, the Greeks and Romans had developed poison for the first using aconite or wolf’s bane. It began to be widely used from then on for eliminating political opponents, in war and most famously for hunting. The Chinese also tipped their arrow heads with aconite to hunt carnivores.
- When used in correct proportions.
- Aconitum could actually be beneficial. For instance, A.nepellus is found to be useful to reduce pain, especially in the joints. There have been records of using it as a topical paste to reduce fevers, to promote healing of mild bruises.
- Diuretics and anti-inflammatory drugs have also been prepared using the wolfsbane flower. The most important process to bring out these benefits and to neutralize the toxin, is the boiling or cooking of these flowers and other parts of the wolfsbane plant. This reduces the strength of the toxin, and makes it suitable for traditional methods like Ayurveda, a well-established system of Indian medicine.
Best Time to Gift Someone Wolfsbane Flowers
Wolfsbane flower meaning, symbolism, and colors contribute to the overall intention behind gifting such flowers. These flowers are usually not given as bouquets as they are toxic and cause severe reactions.
The dramatic colors of the wolfsbane flowers are a grand addition to the spectacle of any garden. Partly due to its toxic nature, extreme caution was followed when gifting these flowers. It signified treachery and advocated caution when given as a gift to someone. Perhaps people gifted these flowers when they wanted to warn the receiver of any danger. In the Victorian era, only people who disliked other human beings and avoided social interactions were suitable recipients and givers of the notorious wolfsbane flowers.