This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Stem attaining a yard in height, pubescent, branched. Leaves deeply palmately cut, with 5-7 broad segments, incised-dentate. Flowers pale yellow, in oval, elongated spikes. Sepals pubescent, soon falling. Hood cylindric-conical, much longer (higher) than broad. Follicles 3, glabrous or glabrescent, with seeds striated on every side.
Woods, gorges, and damp, shady places in the mountains. The writer has seen this as high as 7750 feet in Dauphiny. Somewhat polymorphic; poison. June to August.
Almost all Europe; Western Asia, India, Morocco.
Tubers 1-3, turnip-like, covered with fibres. Stem erect, 2-5 feet high, lower part glabrous like the leaves, upper part downy like the flower-stalks and calyx, rarely quite glabrous, leafless below, densely leafy above. Leaves shiny, palmate, 5-7 cleft. Segments lozenge-shaped in outline, once or several times divided with linear or lanceolate acute teeth. Flowers dark violet, very rarely purple, light blue, or white, in a terminal, elongated, crowded, simple, cylindrical raceme, rarely branched at the base into a panicle. Calyx deciduous. Hood obliquely hemispherical; claw of the two upper petals nearly semicircular, bent forwards, with horizontal or deflected cap. Spur capitate, somewhat bent. Follicles glabrous, less often downy, at first spreading, afterwards parallel.
Woods and damp meadows and pastures in the Alps and sub-Alps, especially by the herdmen's huts, descending streams into the plains; 3000-8200 feet. June to August. Polymorphic, poisonous, and medicinal.
Carpathians, Riesengebirge, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Jura, Vosges, Black Forest; Erzgebirge, locally in Germany as for as Holstein; France (except West and South), Central Asia, Siberia. In Britain in woods and by streams in South Wales and the south-west of England.
Rootstock with tubers like turnips. Stem 2-4 feet high, very leafy, flexuous, pubescent at the top. Leaves not shining, shortly stalked, more broadly and coarsely divided than in the last. Raceme more leafy, rarely quite simple, frequently paniculate from the branching of the lower branches. Flowers violet, often paler or white or greenish towards the base, very rarely quite white or blue. Hood handsome, 1-1 1/2 inches, but variable in size and height. In the same inflorescence are often flowers in which the two upper petals have straight and curved claws, and the hood is erect, oblique or nearly horizontal. Follicles 4, glabrous, spreading.
Damp woods and thickets, and occasionally on more open mountain sides, generally at about 5000 feet altitude. July, August.
Carpathians, Erzgebirge, Jura (rare), Alps of Savoy and Dauphiny; Central Europe as far east as Roumania.
All these Aconitums can be easily naturalised in shrubberies or copses, or in the bushier and more shady positions of large rock-gardens.