Strolling through the western woodland area of the Chicago Botanic Garden this November weekend I was surprised to see the tall, bright blue blooms of Monkshood (Aconitum). I consider Asters in bloom the signal of winter’s eminent arrival. These reliable friends are now full of soft furry tan seed heads. Tall in statue, Monkshood quickly commanded attention in the otherwise neutral setting of newly dormant perennials.
Monkhood’s name is for the sepal’s (outer most part of the flower) resemblance to the caped cowl worn by monks. Running into these flowers was perhaps forewarning of the need for my winter coat this week. The arctic blast, or rather residual typhoon wind, has begun to reach Chicago.
On a side note, the meekness and grace that comes to mind when thinking of monks is not befitting the Monkshood. Monkshood, every part of it, is highly poisonous. So enjoy its beauty with care.
For detailed information this site is a good read on Monkshood: http://www.aacc.org/members/divisions/tdm/library/Pages/feb09-toxin.aspx