Lethal Monkshood
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Lethal Monkshood
P Native Unknown Photo: Suresh Rana
Common name: Lethal Monkshood • Nepali: गोबरी Gobaree
Botanical name: Aconitum lethale    Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Synonyms: Aconitum atrox, Caltha codua, Aconitum balfourii

Lethal Monkshood is an erect, hairless shrub that is more than 1.5 m in height. It is named for Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, 19th century professor of botany. Root tubers are 7-12 cm long and are extraordinarily heavy. Flowers are borne in racemes with five petal-like sepals, and free upper one petals form a large erect hood. Upper two petals form nectar secreting spur, lower two petals are small. Stem is simple or branched, about 1.2 m high, dull purplish-brown. Lower leaves are long stalked and upper ones are short stalked. Inflorescence is about 29 cm long containing many flowered racemes with yellowish tomentum. There are five blue sepals with velvet-hairy, uppermost helmet-shaped. Petals hairless, upper two hooded enclosed in the helmet. Stamens are many; filaments bristly. Seedpods are 2-5, stalkless, silky velvet-hairy. Seeds are broadly winged along raphe. Lethal Monkshood is found in the Himalayas, from Garhwal to Nepal, at altitudes of 3000-3600 m. Flowering: September-November.
Medicinal uses: Lethal Monkshood is used Ayurveda, Traditional chinese medicine. The aqueous extract of the root induces hyper-tension through action on the sympathetic nervous system and in higher doses, it becomes lethal.

Identification credit: V.P. Bhatt, Amber Srivastava Photographed in Bhadarwah, Jammu & Kashmir.

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