Wolfsbane – Keeping the Wolves at Bay

What’s In Your Herb Garden?

Aconitum napellus (Aconite), better known as Monkshood for the helmet-like sepal that covers the rest of the flower, has a long history as both a deadly weapon and an herbal remedy. It is a member of the buttercup family and is a hearty perennial. The flowers come in a range of colors including blues, yellow, white and pinks. It’s other common name, Wolfsbane, is said to have come from the plant’s use in keeping wolves at bay. Villagers used the toxic sap to coat arrows that would kill the unwanted animal.

Wolfsbane or Monkshood? What’s in a name?

Wolfsbane or Monkshood? What’s in a name?

The ancient Roman naturalist Plinius, better known as Pliny the Elder, referred to it as “plant arsenic.” In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the evil sorceress Medea conspires to kill the hero Theseus by offering him a cup infused with the deadly poison. Fortunately for him, her plan was foiled. Had he drank from the cup, his death would have been painful, but relatively fast. Even a small amount of exposure to the roots can produce tingling and numbness, and large-scale exposure can induce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and death.

The European variety, although poisonous enough to be deadly, is not as toxic as the Asian variety, and yet even the Asian variety has been used in healing medicine for centuries as well as in the preparation of poisons. Aconite can trigger hallucinations. I has been used to slow the pulse and as a sedative for heart palpitations. The use of aconite in medicine is probably at the basis of its connection with werewolves, as is the legend that it was given its poisonous qualities from the slobber of Cerberus during Hercules’ fight with that ferocious dog of Hades.

By the way, the seed, wrapped in a lizard’s skin and carried allows you to become invisible at will. I gotta go catch me a lizard…. Anyway, if you are looking to do in a werewolf this Halloween, go for the silver bullet, as wolfsbane merely slows ’em down. Ditto for vampires.


The Wolfman

Even a man who is pure in heart

and says his prayers by night

may become a wolf

when the wolfbane blooms

and the autumn moon is bright.

                       ~A little ditty from the 1941 movie, The Wolfman.


This article was originally created by me for the Exeter Area Garden Club.

Where the Devil Have I Been?

New Herb Garden

It has been like forever (more than a year) since I have posted anything. I guess I had nothing to say – it has been a long, slogging winter since the departure of the love of my life. I tried to phone it in at first (nothing like a bit o’ Krampus to get ones spirits uplifted) but in the end I was tapped out, both creatively and emotionally.

On the positive side, I did change location and now am living on the North Shore of Massachusetts – back to my roots. I have traveled and have gardened.  I am specially fond of my herb garden.

Even though Mark’s journey in this time continuum has ended, mine marches on. I will make the best of it so when we meet again I’ll have much to tell.

As Seen In Tennessee

Just returned from Nashville & Memphis. Lots of interesting signage to be found!

Sign 4

Memphis Bar – Good to know….

Nashville Piggery

Nashville Piggery

Memphis Piggery

Memphis Piggery

Site of MLK Shooting in Memphis

Site of MLK Shooting in Memphis

Best Boots in Nashville!

Best Booty (I mean Boots) in Nashville!

'nough said in Memphis...

‘nough said in Memphis…

Two Steppin' at its best in Nashville

Two Steppin’ at its best in Nashville

Memphis Comics

Memphis Comics