Friday, September 16, 2011

Southern Blue Monkshood, Aconitum uncinatum

I planted 3 plugs in the spring of Southern Blue Monkshood, Aconitum uncinatum. One kept getting dug up by the wildlife and died. Another is still alive but got nibbled off at the tip, so it's stopped growing. The last impresses me the most though as it's only reach 1' tall and decided to flower.

The flowers have slightly blued up since this photo. Technically this plant is a vine but I'd described it more as a bramble. I've seen mature plants at the Mt. Cuba Center. They send out lots of soft canes that spread and climb up other plants when they can. They don't get taller or spread more than 5' feet before flowering in the late summer. Each winter they die back to the ground, making this a well behaved vine. They grow in partial sun to full shade, like it a little on the wet side I think, and I've seen Monarch butterflies visit the flowers along with bees and hover flies.

Nonnative Monkshoods are more commonly sold. They're not vines or brambles though, but rather up right perennials on par with a snapdragon or lupine. It seems our natives are the only ones that grow to be semi-vines. They're a real treat to have because the foliage stays hidden for most of the year. Our natives are not widely sold but I got mine from Toadshade Wildflower Farm, direct link.