Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Herbs, perennial, biennial or rarely annual, usually erect, rarely scandent or twining. Leaves basal and on stems, simple, suborbicular or broadly ovate in outline, generally ternately palmati-partite or deeply divided or incised with lateral segments, again deeply divided or rarely pinnatisect. Flowers zygomorphic, in simple or branched racemes, often reduced to few or solitary. Sepals 5,petaloid,blue,yellow,reddish,purple or white; the uppermost larger, broader, hood-like, concave, boat-shaped or helmet-shaped, rarely spurred; the two upper lateral sepals obovate or suborbicular, flat; the two lower lateral sepals narrower and somewhat unequal, oblong or elliptic. Petals (honey-scales) 4 or 5, only 2 posterior ones developed and transformed into nectaries, with a slender grooved basal claw, broadening into a sac-like hooded limb, with terminal nectariferous spur, enclosed within the uppermost sepal, the anterior petals small or absent. Stamens numerous. Follicles usually 3 - 5, rarely 9 - 12, somewhat erect, sessile. Seeds many, with pongy rugose or wrinkled testa.

North temperate regions; ca 300 species, 27 in India.

Literature. STAPF, O. (1906) Aconites of India - A monograph. Ann. R Bot. Gard. Calc. 10: 115 - 197, tt. 92 - 116.


1a. Herbs, scandent or twining 2
b. Herbs, erect 3
2a. Pedicels recurved; flowers nodding; lamina of leaves pubescent 6. Aconitum elwesii
b. Pedicels straight; flowers erect; lamina of leaves glabrous 18. Aconitum lethale
3a. Annual herbs, with slender tap root; carpels 9 or more, up to 12 11. Aconitum gymnandrum
b. Perennial or biennial heros, usually with a paired tap-root; carpels 3 - 5, rarely up to 8 4
4a. Flowers solitaty or 2 at stem apex or up to 4 in a raceme 5
b. Flowers in dense racemes or panicles 7
5a. Flowers always solitaty, carpels 6 - 8 9. Aconitum fletcherianum
b. Flowers 1 - 2 at stem apex or 1 - 4 in a raceme; carpels 5 6
6a. Flowers 1 - 2 at stem apex; leaves mostly from hypogeous stem base; uppermost sepal helmet-shaped 15. Aconitum kashmiricum
b. Flowers 1 - 4 in a raceme; leaves mostly only basal; uppermost sepal boat-shaped 22. Aconitum naviculare
7a. Perennial herbs 8
b. Biennial herbs 10
8a. Follicles divergent; uppermost sepal helmet-shaped 17. Aconitum laeve
b. Follicles contiguous or erect; uppermost sepal ovate or boat-shaped, not helmet-shaped 9
9a. Uppermost sepal ovate with a long beak 23. Aconitum novoluridum
b Uppermost sepal boat-shaped without a beak 19. Aconitum moschatum
10a. Petals (honey-seales) hispid or hispidulous 11
b. Petals (honey-scales) glabrous 16
11a. Carpels glabrous, dtying black 12
b. Carpels pubescent, if glabrate then not drying black 13
12a. Inflorescence a few-flowered raceme; sepals glabrous 10. Aconitum gammiei
b. Inflorescence a stiff dense raceme; sepals pubescent 7. Aconitum falconeri
13a. Carpels 3 (rarely 4 - 5 in A. laciniatum) 14
b. Carpels 5 15
14a. Flowers blue; uppermost sepal up to 6 mm broad 5. Aconitum deinorrhizum
b. Flowers reddish purple or dark red; uppermost sepal 13 - 15 mm broad 16. Aconitum laciniatum
15a. Uppermost sepal horizontal, conspicuously beaked; carpels densely velvety with yellow hairs 21. Aconitum nakaoi
b. Uppermost sepal oblique, shortly beaked; carpels pubescent or glabrate, not as above 12. Aconitum heterophylloides
16a. Carpels 3 17
b. Carpels 5 18
17a. Flowers yellow, in panicles 1. Aconitum assamicum
b. Flowers blue, in terminal racemes 25. Aconitum soongoricum
18a. Carpels glabrous 19
b. Carpels pubescent 20
19a. Inflorescence a loose panicle; uppermost sepal obscurely beaked 3. Aconitum bisma
b. Inflorescence a dense raceme; uppermost sepal with long and slender beak 4. Aconitum chasmanthum
20a. Leaves all or most from hypogeous base of stem 21
b. Leaves basal and cauline 23
21a. Sepals sparingly hairy; uppermost sepal helmet-shaped, rarely navicular 14. Aconitum hookeri
b. Sepals pubescent; uppermost sepal mostly boat-shaped 22
22a. Leaves 1 - 2 at base, and only 1 - 2 higher up; lamina laciniate 27. Aconitum violaceum
b. Leaves 4 - 5 (-8), mostly basal in loose rosettes; lamina with broad lobes 24. Aconitum rotundifolium
23a. lower leaves present at the time of flowering; leaves heteromorphous 13. Aconitum heterophyllum
b. lower leaves decayed at the time of flowering; leaves uniform 24
24a. Seeds broadly winged along raphe 2. Aconitum balfouri
b. Seeds transversely lamellate, not winged along raphe 25
25a. Leaf-lamina glabrous, 3-partite 20. Aconitum nagarum
b. Leaf-lamina finely pubescent,5 or more partite 26
26a. Bracteoles linear, not dentate; flowers dirty blue; petal bead ca 6 mm long 8. Aconitum ferox
b. Bracteoles broad, dentate; flowers saturated blue; petal head 10 - 11 mm long 26. Aconitum spicatum

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