These fibrous- and tuberous-rooted perennials belong to the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. They are found wild in the meadows of Europe and East Asia. They grow from 3 to 4 feet high, and the roots and plants are poisonous. A. Sparks Variety (Monkshood) is an upright plant with dark green leaves that are deeply divided into 3 or 5 thin, shiny lobes. The large, hooded flowers are rich violet-blue and produced on widely branching stems in mid- to late summer. A. cammarum bicolor is an erect plant that has shiny, dark green leaves that are deeply divided. The large, helmet-shaped, violet-blue and white flowers are borne in short, compact spikes atop upright, sparsely branched stems in the summer. A. lycoctonum vulparia (Wolf's Bane) has deeply divided, shiny, dark green leaves and slender, pale buff yellow flowers in short spikes.
These plants should be grown in moist, but well-drained, fertile soil in sun or partial shade. These plants should be divided every 2nd or 3rd year to maintain vigorous growth.