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Useful Temperate Plants

Aconitum heterophyllum

Wall. ex Royle

Ranunculaceae


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[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. 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[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
], whilst the Flora of China recognizes 211 species in China alone and around 400 species worldwide[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. 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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Aconitum atees Royle

Aconitum cordatum Royle

Aconitum kashmiricum Stapf ex Coventry

Aconitum ovatum Lindl.

Aconitum petiolare Royle ex Stapf

Common Name:

Aconitum heterophyllum

General Information

Aconitum heterophyllum is a herbaceous perennial plant with an erect stem that can be branched or unbranched and is usually 15 - 90cm tall, occasionally reaching 200cm. The stem grows from a biennial tuberous root that produces a new tuber each year, the old tuber dying after the plant flowers[
1051
Title
Annals of the Royal Botanic Garden Vol.10
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, this edition contains a treatment of the genera Dalbergia and Aconitum in Asia. Rather old, but a wealth of information, illustrations etc.
].
Aconitum heterophyllum is a highly traded medicinal plant in India, where it is known as 'Ativisa' and is included in the Ayurvedic Formulary of India[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
]. This is one of various Aconitum species that are widely harvested from the high altitude alpine and subalpine meadows in the Western Himalayas.
The plant is is harvested for its tubers, which constitute the Ayurvedic plant drug 'Ativisa', and which is included in the Ayurvedic Formulary of India. During collection the whole plant is uprooted. It has been observed, as well as inferred, that the trend of unsustainable collection practice is continuing and more than 70% of the wild population in the Himalayan region of India had declined in the 10 years up to 2003, and that this trend has continued up to 2015.The plant is classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

The whole plant is highly toxic - simple skin contact has caused numbness in some people[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. One report says that this plant does not contain the toxic alkaloid aconitine, and so is not poisonous[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. It does, however, still contain an intensely bitter alkaloid[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
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 they are still widely used in traditional medicine, especially in Asia[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

Range

E. Asia - western Himalayas from Pakistan to Nepal.

Habitat

Alpine to sub-alpine open slopes; common on grassy meadows, upper oak/coniferous forest; also glacial riverine, rocky moist areas, alpine dry scrub, open grass, shady moist alpine slopes; usually on humus-rich soils; 2,300 - 2,900 metres[
145
Title
Forest Flora of Srinagar.
Publication
 
Author
Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
A good flora of the western Himalayas but poorly illustrated. Some information on plant uses.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
,
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusEndangered
Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.50 m
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a calcareous soil.
Grows well in open woodlands[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
The roots of this plant are extensively collected from the wild for medicinal use and the species is becoming much rarer in many areas of its range[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].
Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
].
A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes[
54
Title
How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Publication
 
Author
Hatfield. A. W.
Publisher
Frederick Muller Ltd
Year
1977
ISBN
0-584-10141-4
Description
Interesting reading.
].
All Aconitum species are prohibited for export in India if the plants have been collected from the wild. Cultivated specimens can be exported from India. This species has been proposed for inclusion in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) appendices but is yet to be included[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
The trade name is Ativisa. It is taken from wild plants and the root is traded. The material traded under the name ‘Atis’ includes roots of Aconitum bisma, Aconitum violaceum and Chaerophyllum villosum. Estimated consumption is 210 MT per year[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves and root - cooked[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. This report should be treated with great distrust due to the poisonous nature of the genus, but see the notes above on known hazards[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
The farinaceous root is very bitter[
1051
Title
Annals of the Royal Botanic Garden Vol.10
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, this edition contains a treatment of the genera Dalbergia and Aconitum in Asia. Rather old, but a wealth of information, illustrations etc.
]. This strongly suggests the presence of toxic alkaloids[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

The dried root is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cholagogue, febrifuge and tonic[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is used in India in the treatment of dyspepsia, diarrhoea and coughs[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
]. It is also used in Tibetan medicine, where it is said to have a bitter taste and a cooling potency[
241
Title
Tibetan Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Tsarong. Tsewang. J.
Publisher
Tibetan Medical Publications, India
Year
1994
ISBN
81-900489-0-2
Description
A nice little pocket guide to the subject with photographs of 95 species and brief comments on their uses.
]. It is used to treat poisoning from scorpion or snake bites, the fevers of contagious diseases and inflammation of the intestines[
241
Title
Tibetan Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Tsarong. Tsewang. J.
Publisher
Tibetan Medical Publications, India
Year
1994
ISBN
81-900489-0-2
Description
A nice little pocket guide to the subject with photographs of 95 species and brief comments on their uses.
].
The root is best harvested in the autumn as soon as the plant dies down and is dried for later use[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

The root is extensively exported from the North-West Himalaya to the plains of India, and can be had practically in every drug-shop throughout the country . . . That it is a mild and pleasant tonic is universally accepted by Indian medical men[
1051
Title
Annals of the Royal Botanic Garden Vol.10
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, this edition contains a treatment of the genera Dalbergia and Aconitum in Asia. Rather old, but a wealth of information, illustrations etc.
].
The active principle is Atisinc, an alkaloid, non poisonous in small doses and of a chemical structure very different from aconitine and pseudaconitine[
1051
Title
Annals of the Royal Botanic Garden Vol.10
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A botanical journal, this edition contains a treatment of the genera Dalbergia and Aconitum in Asia. Rather old, but a wealth of information, illustrations etc.
].

Aconitum heterophyllum is a highly traded medicinal plant. This species is used as an anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic, astringent and febrifuge. It is useful in treating coughs, diarrhoea and indigestion. It is a valuable drug for infants in dentition, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
]. Traditionally it has been used as an antidote to poisoning[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
111
Title
Popular Hardy Perennials.
Publication
 
Author
Sanders. T. W.
Publisher
Collingridge
Year
1926
ISBN
-
Description
A fairly wide range of perennial plants that can be grown in Britain and how to grow them.
]. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate[
133
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. 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[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
111
Title
Popular Hardy Perennials.
Publication
 
Author
Sanders. T. W.
Publisher
Collingridge
Year
1926
ISBN
-
Description
A fairly wide range of perennial plants that can be grown in Britain and how to grow them.
]. 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[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
].
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2021-03-02. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Aconitum+heterophyllum>

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