The name derives from the Greek akòniton “poisonous plant”. The genus includes evergreen perennials originating from the northern hemisphere, some indigenous in Italy, with variously lobed leaves, laciniate or palmitoleate, showy flowers in the form of a helmet grouped in spikes, roots more or less tuberized, very poisonous, like the whole plant. Some alkaloids are extracted from them, the main one being aconitin, scarcely used even in medicine because of the very high toxicity; the most frequent use is in anti-neuralgic drugs, but care should be taken with the doses for the products containing it.
Cultivated species of Aconitum:
A. carmichaelii (about 1 meter), violet-blue flowers in late summer and autumn; Aconitum napellus (cm 50 – m 1), the most important and one of the most poisonous, especially in large tubers, aboriginal and very frequent on the Alps and the Pre-Alps, blue or purple flowers in July and August; there are many varieties with white and pink flowers and many cultivars have been taken from them; Aconitum variegatum, with flowers often variegated in white and light blue, spontaneous on the Alps and in the northern part of the Apennines up to Tuscany.
the Aconitum, or rather its cultivated varieties, are suitable plants to be used in semi-shady gardens in cool places; they require permeable and porous soil and form beautiful spots of color. It is multiplied by division of the tufts in spring, it can also be sown, but the germination is slow.