E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Aconitum columbianum Nutt.
Columbia Monkshood (Columbian monkshood)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Daniel Stewart  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #71453)

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Distribution of Aconitum columbianum
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Aconitum columbianum ssp. columbianum

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a tuberous root; stems erect, stout, hollow, 20-200 cm tall, smooth to slightly crisp-hairy below, spreading-hairy above and glandular, particularly in inflorescence.
Mostly stem leaves, alternate, long-stalked below, unstalked above, deeply palmately 3- to 5- (7-) lobed, 5-15 cm wide, the segment margins variously cleft and toothed.
Inflorescence a terminal, open raceme, the flowers bilaterally symmetric, usually blue, sometimes white or cream-coloured or blue-tinged at sepal margins, 18-50 mm long from tips of lower sepals to top of hood; flower stalks slender, ascending; petals 2, distinct, concealed in hood, long-clawed, spurred at apex; sepals 5, petal-like, usually hairy and often somewhat glandular, the lower 2 lance-shaped, flat, 6-16 mm long, the lateral 2 round kidney-shaped, the upper sepal (the hood) sac-like, arched, conic-hemispheric to crescent-shaped, beaked, 11-34 mm long from receptacle to top of hood, 6-26 mm wide from receptacle to beak tip; pistils 3 (-5).
Follicles, 3 (-5), 10-20 mm long, smooth to sparsely hairy, seeds about 3.5 mm long, longitudinally winged, with many transverse, membranous baffles.
Most species of Aconitum are highly toxic, causing death in livestock and humans. However, A. columbianum does not seem to be that toxic (Whittemore and Parfitt 1997).

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Black
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist meadows, streambanks, thickets and forests in the montane and subalpine zones; common in SC and SE BC; S to NY, MI, WI, WY, NV, CA and MX.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Aconitum columbianum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 638 1307 2090
Slope Gradient (%) 0 11 56
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 236 315
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 5 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BAFA(2), BWBS(4), ESSF(34), ICH(28), IDF(13), IMA(1), MS(16), SBS(2)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References