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A beautiful but deadly poisonous common plant that can poison by touch but this does not seem to cause fatal toxicity.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Monkshood, Old Wives Hood, Soldiers Helmet, Dogs Bane, Devils Hood
Scientific Name Aconitum napellus
Season Start Mar
Season End Oct
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The dark green leaves are deeply palmately lobed, with five to seven angular segments with sharp lobes coming from these.


Blue, purple, pink, white or yellow flowers with one of the petals enlarging and becoming a ‘hood’.

Seed Pods

Has erect finger like green seed pods.


A tall and erect stem with fine hairs, often reaching above two metres in height.


Likes wet but well drained soil and can be found in gardens, woods and ditches.




Reasonably common.

Other Facts

It has been reported that the poison can affect humans just by contact, but this usually causes paraesthesia or headaches rather than severe toxicity.

Has been used in various places around the world as a poison for arrow tips for both hunting and warfare.


6 comments for Monkshood

  1. ke_house says:

    This is a little confusing. I watched one of Marlow’s video on youtube; he said all the purple flower plant in the UK is edible (at least not poisonous), and I clicked the poisonous hedgerow list, the first flower is purple. Why?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Marlow was talking about purple flowered vetch species and did not state that all purple flowered plants are edible, as Monkshood proves.

      1. ke_house says:

        Great thanks for clarified 🙂 Just started foraging since lockdown… still have some much to learn. Your website and youtube are amazing.

  2. David Farrelly says:

    This plant is beautiful. Thanks Marlow for all your wisdom and guidance. One of the most poisonous plants in the world,
    however according to some one of the most medicinal. Its colour like Shiva and temperament like Odin.

  3. Michelle says:

    Is the underside of the leaf silvery like mugwort too?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Monkshood leaf is a bit lighter underneath but does not have the ‘hairy’, ‘silver’ appearance of Mugwort.

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