415 Raspberry Picket Trilogy
In my southern Ohio garden Aconite, or often called Wolfsbane, blooms in late October, usually at its peak on Halloween. I always sit at the entrance of my front yard garden and handout candy on Beggar’s Night to the little versions of superheroes, Nina Turtles, a variety of Princesses, and monsters, including a werewolf or two. I always point out the tall blue Aconite flower to them and explain in olden days people used this poisonous plant to scare off werewolf attacks and in certain potions it was used to cure werewolves. I am always amazed how interested kids are in the folklore of plants.
While the Aconite flowers are beautiful and unusual, the plant is very toxic and parts of the plant can kill. The toxins in the plant affect the nervous system of the body. In ancient days arrows were dipped in an Aconite solution to poison and kill the enemy. Likewise Aconite was added to a mixture to lure wolves, once ingested the wolves died. There is an herbal medicine available in drug stores that uses a variety of herbs, including Aconite to help with back pain. I found it really upset my stomach.
In the Harry Potter universe, Professor Snape asks young Harry what is the difference between Aconite and Monkshood (another name for the plant.) Young Harry doesn’t know they are the same plant and is rebuked by the Professor.
In folklore Aconite is carried in lizard skins to allow the person to have the power of invisibility. Also Aconite was used as an ingredient in flying spells. As mentioned above it is a herb of protection and was used to ward off both vampires and werewolves.
Aconite, Wolfsbane, or Monkshood is a beautiful autumn flower for the garden. It does not like to have its roots disturbed and does not transplant well. It is available with white, blue, yellow, violet, and bi-colored flowers. It does not like heat or strong sun. It likes a cool area that is moist. Some years when the temps reach into the 90’s F my Aconite often suffers, no matter how much I try to keep it moist. By fall it may loose some of its leaves but usually recovers enough to have an abundance of beautiful blooms.
In my 415 Raspberry Picket novels Uncle Rubus and his young nephew Darach use Aconite in their arsenal of magical herbs to battle against those who are determined to kill all plant life on Earth.
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R. L. Patterson