Aconite, also called Wolfsbane or Monkhood was a plant from the genus Aconitum that was grown both in the muggle world and the magical world. In the magical world, it was said to have several magical properties and was known to be used in making potions. It had distinctive purple flowers and a green stem. Its leaves were very dark green in colour and were highly poisonous.
Most plants of the Aconitum genus were perennial plants and there are records and myths regarding their usage since ancient times in traditional medicine. Its flowers were often used in potion-making and its roots were sometimes used in the preparation of some potions. Perhaps the most popular potion which used Aconite as the main ingredient was the Wolfsbane Potion. It was used to temporarily relieve one from the effects of being a werewolf. A goblet full of it was taken for a whole week every day before the full moon day. Aconite was also an essential ingredient in the Wideye Potion, an awakening potion used to wake someone up from sleep or ensure that they never fell asleep.
Early Use Of Aconite
There were said to be about 250 different species of the Aconitum, and Wolfsbane was believed to be one of the most common species to be found. In earlier days, in medieval Europe, plants from the Aconitum species especially Aconite were used in the tips of arrows that were used to hunt down wolves. This is why they were called wolf’s bane which later came to be known as Wolfsbane. It was also used to trap other animals in animal bait as its leaves were highly poisonous. It belonged to the buttercup family of plants and was also used in several flying ointments by witches. Despite containing highly poisonous parts, Aconitum formed a major part of the ingredients in remedies such as any diuretic, heart sedative, pain killer, and as a remedy to cause sweating. Any pain reliever made from Aconite was believed to be highly effective for most pains as it had highly soothing properties.
Aconite in Harry Potter
The only known mention of the plant Aconite in the Harry Potter series comes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in which Severus Snape interrogates Harry Potter about several different Potions. His first question is about the infusion of Asphodel and Wormwood, the second question is about a Bezoar and the third question is about the difference between Monkshood and Wolfsbane. Harry fails to answer all three of these questions and despite Hermione seeming to know these answers, Snape ignores her and reveals the answers himself. He claims that Asphodel and Wormwood combine together to form the Draught of Living Death which is the strongest sleeping potion in the world, Bezoar is a stone procured from the stomach of a goat that works as an antidote for most poisons, and Monkshood and Wolfsbane are the same things and they also go by the name of Aconite.
However, Aconite may have appeared in the Harry Potter series several times without being mentioned. Most importantly, Aconite is a potion ingredient in Wolfsbane potion which is used to reduce the effects felt by a werewolf on a full moon day. Therefore, it is highly likely that the potion that Severus Snape prepared for Remus Lupin around the time of every full moon in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the Wolfsbane potion. It uses Aconite as one of its major ingredients.
Discussion Of The Properties Of Aconite
Aconite is known both for its healing and toxic properties. While several species of Aconitum are used in many medicines and potions with healing properties, in Medieval Europe, Aconite was also used as a poison in baiting animals. Aconite’s poison was also used on arrows and darts used to hunt wolves which gives it the name Wolfsbane. The leaves of the Aconite plant were highly poisonous, yet the flowers were very essential in Potion-making. The root of Aconite was used in potions too. Wolfsbane was mostly known as an ingredient of the Wolfsbane potion.
Aconite in the Muggle World
Aconite, in the Muggle world, refers to a plant in the Aconitum genus which is also known as Wolfsbane, Monkshood, Leopard’s bane, devil’s helmet, and blue rocket. The genus Aconitum has around 250 flowering plants all of which belong to the Ranunculaceae family. They are mostly endemic to the mountain regions of the Northern Hemisphere, more specifically Asia, Europe, and North America. Most plants from the Aconitum species are believed to be highly poisonous and are therefore required to be handled with great care. As described in the magical world, Aconite is a very potent poison even in the Muggle world and is believed to cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Severe poisoning may cause motor dysfunction, cardiac arrests, and even death. Asphyxia is believed to be the major cause of death among people who have ingested lethal amounts of Aconite.
Why is Aconite called Wolfsbane?
Aconite is a highly poisonous plant also known to have medicinal properties when used efficiently. Aconite’s poison was used as the poison used to line darts and arrows that were shot of wolves while hunting. Therefore, the Aconite plant is also referred to as Wolfsbane. It was literally a bane for the wolves that got caught hunting. Furthermore, Aconite is a major ingredient in the Wolfsbane potion used to reduce the undesirable effects of being a werewolf during the full moon. It is believed that the Wolfsbane potion reduces the ‘wolf-like’ properties of the werewolf, thereby preventing them from turning into a dangerous animal.
Is Wolfsbane actually poisonous?
Yes, Wolfsbane is actually considered very poisonous. While the Wolfsbane flowers are used in the Harry Potter universe to make potions and medicines, even in the magical world, Wolfsbane leaves are highly poisonous and can cause severe effects if swallowed or sometimes even touched. In the Herbology classes, Professor Sprout is said to have taken extreme caution by wearing dragon hide gloves to touch Aconite. Aconite roots, if used properly are not considered poisonous and are sometimes used in potions too.
Is Wolfsbane potion easy?
No, Wolfsbane potion is not very easy to make. It is believed to be very difficult to make and requires very valuable ingredients which are very difficult to procure for werewolves who are usually unemployed because of being ostracized by the magical community. It uses Wolfsbane as its primary ingredient. It was invented by Damocles Belby probably in the twentieth century. It is believed to be very difficult to make as Remus Lupin specifically thanks Snape when he makes it for him and also tells that he is very lucky that Snape is making this potion for him as most Potioneers would not agree to make it because of how difficult it is to make.