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Aconitum, Acorus and Acradenia. A-Z Plant genera. Part 5

Updated on October 2, 2015

Aconitum variegatum



In this series , A-Z of plant genera we are looking at plants from all over the globe,both wild and cultivated species. In this article we are to review two genera, the Aconitum and the Acorus. The Aconitum is a genus of plants in the Buttercup family Ranunculaceae,and the pants within it are commonly referred to as Monkshood and/or Wolfsbane.

It is a genus of perennials with poisonous,tuberous or fibrous root stock,which produce upright stems,sometimes scandent,stems, bearing hooded flowers in summer. The foliage is mostly rounded in outline.They are good for borders and rock gardens as cultivars. They are fully hardy and like full sun,however, they will tolerate some shade, and some believe that some shade will enhance the flower colours.

They require a well drained and fertile soil. They are propagated by means of division of the root stock in autumn. It is recommended that this task is carried out every two to three years. Remember that all species are very poisonous and must be dealt with carefully. Always wash your hands after working on the plants in your garden.

Aconitum napellus, Monkshood {type species}, has been dealt with in great detail in my series ' Past and Present Medicinal Uses-part-8 }, thus is omitted here. However, the cultivated varieties are dealt with in this article.

Aconitum anthora

Uploaded to Commons via Stef1432
Uploaded to Commons via Stef1432 | Source

A look at the species.

Aconitum anthora, cultivar, is a compact perennial up to two feet tall with a spread of one and three quarter feet. They produce erect leafy stems that bear several yellow hooded flowers during the summer. It is often referred to as the Yellow Monkshood.

The leaves are divided and dark green. It is a native of European mountains such as the Alps and Carpathians. They are also found in the northern parts of Asia,where it flowers from July -September. Although the species has been used in medicine,it is not for use in home made recipes,because of it being very poisonous if taken internally.

Aconitum Carmichaelri ' arendsii.'

Den Haag, Holland.
Den Haag, Holland. | Source

Acontium micheallii

Aconitum michaelii syn ' Aconitum ficsheri', is native to the eastern parts of Asia and eastern Russia. 'Carmichael's Monkshood', and 'Chimnese Wolfsbane',along with 'Chinese aconite' are some of the common names by which it its referred to. As cultivars the 'Arendsii' group have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Aconitum michealii 'arendsii', the is an erect, tuberous, perennial growing to the height of up to five feet tall with a spread of about a foot.The foliage is rich dark green and divided. The flowers are produced in the autumn on spikes ,they are hooded and of a rich deep blue colour. The upright tall stems may need staking particularly for those growing in the shade.

Other cultivars include Aconitum x bicolor.'Newry Blue'.

Aconitum 'Sparks variety' {Violet blue flowers}.

Aconitum 'Bresssingham Spire' { Violet blue flowers}.

Acontium 'Ivorine' { creamy white flowers }.

Aconitum volubile { Lilac flowers }.

Aconitum lycotonum.

Illustration of Aconitum ferox.

Kohler's Medizinal Pflanzen
Kohler's Medizinal Pflanzen | Source

Aconitum koreanum


Aconitum columbianum


Other wild species.

Aconnitum ferox, syn, 'virorum', is commonly known as the Indian Aconite It is abundant in west Bengal India. It is regarded as the most poisonous plant in the world.

Aconitum koreanum, Korean Monkshood, is found not only, in Korea, but also China , Mongolia,and far eastern Russia. It is found in grassy areas in mountain valleys or an slopes.It attains the height of around forty inches and blooms from July to August. They produce hooded pale yellow flowers which may have a purplish tinge.

Aconitum Columbianum, Columbian Monkshood. is a species native to western North America,where it grows in moist areas particularly in coniferous forests. It is found at altitudes of up to nine thousand five hundred feet.

It is a tall and spindly erect to scandent and the roots are perennial rhizomes. It has lobed or toothed,buttercup-like foliage. The flowers are borne spaced well apart on long stems. There are several recognized sub-species.

Aconitum noveboracense, is listed as being a threatened species by the USFW.. It is found in rare portions of New York State and in portions of the Driftless Area. It is thought to exist in only four states.

A single stem may produce many hooded, blue flowers about one inch long. The stems may attain the height of one to four feet. The foliage is broad with coarse toothed lobes. It is another species that prefers moist soil in shade or partial shade.

The genus Acorus.

The genus Acorus will be found in older flower and garden books under the family Araceae,but in the more up to date books they are now placed in the family Acoraceae, and it is the only genus within that family.These plants in their native settings,are plants of marshes and wetlands, where they spread by means of thick rhizomes. They also occur on shorelines and floodplains where the water levels fluctuate with the seasons.

The cultivars are semi-evergreen,perennial,marginal and submerged water plants,grown for their aromatic foliage. They are fully frost hardy. They require an open sunny situation and the species Acorus calamus,requires up to ten inches of water. This particular species has been covered in detail in my series 'Past and Present medicinal Uses' -part 2.

Acorus calamus

Taken in France.
Taken in France. | Source

Acorus gramineus. Japanese Sweetflag.


A look at the species.

Acorus calamus 'variegatus' is a semi-evergreen,perennial,marginal water plant. They have sword-like leaves which are tangerine scented,and of a mid-green colour, They have a cream coloured variegation and flushed with rose pink in the spring. They reach the height of two feet or more with a similar spread. They require a sunny aspect. The plants are frost hardy down to -15 C.

Acorus gramineus 'variegatus', is also a semi-evergreen,perennial,marginal or submerged water plant. This species has narrow,grass-like foliage,stiff and dark green with cream variegation. They are about one foot tall. They require a sunny aspect and are frost hardy down to -5 degrees C. {-23 F }.

Acorus gramineus 'pusillus', is a semi-evergreen, perennial,or water plant, or a submerged aquarium species. They are frost hardy. They have a height and spread of four to six inches. The foliage is narrow and stiff, grass-like ,rarely produces insignificant green flowers in the summer.

Acorus gramineus is native to Japan and eastern Asia,where it occurs in wetlands and shallow water.,

The American sweetflag, Acorus americanus, is a wetland plant native to the northern United States. This perennial species has bright green blades of foliage that arise directly from the rhizomes and sheath into each other at the base. They have two to six raised veins. The foliage has a citrus -like aroma. The flowers are inconspicuous and arranged on a central spadix. {see image }.Below.

The plant is protected as a State endangered species in Pennsylvania. It was once classed as a variety of Acorus calamus.

Acorus americanus.


Acradenia eudoiiformis trunk.


The genus Acradenia.

The genus Acradenia is a genus of just two species from Australia. Acrandenia euodiiformis, is a medium sized tree that is found growing in north eastern New South Wales. It is sometimes referred to as the 'bonewood'. It may attain the height of up to 20 metres,with a trunk two feet in diameter. The trunk is rarely cylindrical and usually an irregular shape. It is classed as an -under-story tree of rainforests.

The foliage of the native tree is often grouped in threes. { occasionally in fives or twos },and they are borne opposite to each other. The leaves are simple not toothed. It bears white scented flowers from October to December.The flowers are succeeded by the fruits which ripen from January to March,and are composed of two hard carpels.

Acradenia frankliniae, is found in western Tasmania,and attains the height of three metres.It is also a tree of the rainforest floor,and is often associated with streams. The waxy foliage is arranged in groups of three. The white flowers appear in spring. The fruit is small and of a yellow colour. They are pitted and resemble tiny lemons which later dry up. The trees belong to the family Rutaceae.

Cultivars are grown for their foliage and flowers. They are half hardy. The location required is a sheltered position in sun or semi-shade,in a fertile well drained soil. They do best on a south facing or west facing wall. They may be propagated by semi-ripe cuttings during the summer.

The only cultivar of note is the cultivar 'frankliniae'. This cultivar is an evergreen, upright,branched shrub with a height and spread of six feet or so. It has dark green leaves with three narrowly ,lance-shaped leaflets. From spring to late summer they bear small clusters of star-shaped white flowers.

Acradenia frankliniae

Hobart Gardens.
Hobart Gardens. | Source


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    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Deb,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments. Much appreciated. The family is poisonous and especially the members of the Aconitum. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As always, fascinating. I had no idea the buttercup clan was so deadly.