This species is closely related to Aconitum fischeri and considered to be part of that species by some botanists[
The genus Aconitum worldwide is notorious for complex patterns of morphologic intergradation that blur the lines between taxa. Aconites from different regions may be morphologically distinct but connected by a series of intermediate races[
]. There have been huge differences of opinion between botanists as to how to define a species in this genus, with the Flora of N. America recognizing around 100 species worlwide[
], whilst the Flora of China recognizes 211 species in China alone and around 400 species worldwide[
]. We are following the proposed treatment in the 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families', which is still under review, but currently (2016) recognizes about 320 distinct species (391 including hybrids and infraspecific forms) and over 1,000 synonyms[
Aconitum bodinieri H.Lév. & Vaniot
Aconitum chinense Siebold ex J. Paxton
Aconitum fortunei Hemsl.
Aconitum japonicum truppelianum Ulbr.
Aconitum jiulongense W.T.Wang
Aconitum kitagawae Nakai
Aconitum kusnezoffii bodinieri (H.Lév. & Vaniot) Finet & Gagnep.
Aconitum liaotungense Nakai
Aconitum lushanense Migo
Aconitum takahashii Kitag.
Aconitum truppelianum (Ulbr.) Nakai
Aconitum wilsonii Stapf ex Mottet
Common Name: Japanese Aconite
Clump of the plants growing in the Nederlands
Photograph by: TeunSpaans
Aconitum carmichaelii is a herbaceous perennial plant with an erect, branched stem that usually grows from 60 - 150cm tall, occasionally to 200cm[
]. The plant spreads by forming new tubers each year and can eventually form quite large clumps[
The plant is harvested from the wild, and also cultivated for its roots, which are used medicinally. A very ornamental plant[
], there are some named forms grown in gardens[
The whole plant is highly toxic - simple skin contact has caused numbness in some people[
The aconites have been of interest since ancient times because they contain diterpene alkaloids that range from relatively nontoxic to deadly poisonous. In various parts of the world they have been used medicinally and as a source of poisons throughout history. The use of Aconitum alkaloids in modern Western medicine was largely discontinued by the late 1930's and early 1940's, though the roots are still widely used in traditional medicine, especially in Asia[
E. Asia - C. and W. China to N. Vietnam
Forest margins, scrub, grassy slopes and mountains at elevations of 100 - 2,200 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. Plants will only thrive in a sunny position if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season[
]. Prefers a calcareous soil.
This species is not included in the Flora of North America[
] and so it should be considered doubtful that its range includes this region.
It grows well in open woodlands[
Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer[
A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes[
A widely used herbal remedy in China, where it is cultivated for its root[
]. This is harvested in the autumn as the plant dies down and is then dried before being used. The root is anaesthetic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, cardiotonic, stimulant and vasodilator[
]. It is used in the treatment of shock and collapse, chronic diseases with symptoms of cold, gastralgia and rheumatic arthralgia, oedema and diarrhoea due to hypofunction of the spleen and kidney[
]. A tincture of the root is used externally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthralgis, sprains, contusions etc[
Use with great caution, the plant contains the toxic alkaloid aconitine and is very poisonous - it should not be used internally[
] unless under the direction of a qualified practitioner[
]. Overdoses lead to numbness of the tongue, lips and extremities, nausea, vomiting, irritability and coma[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer.
Division - best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn[
]. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year[