Botanical Name: Aconitum ferox
Species: A. ferox
Common Name: Indian aconite, Vatsanabha, Vatsnabh
English: Indian Aconite
Hindi: Meetha Telia, Bachnag, Meetha Visha, Vatsnabh
Sanskrit: Vatsanabha, Amrit, Visha
Punjabi: Meetha Telia
Habitat: Aconitum ferox is native to Eastyern Asia – Himalays. It grows in shrubberies and forest clearings, 2100 – 3600 metres from C. Nepal to Bhutan.
It grows abundantly at Sandakphu, which is the highest point of the Darjeeling Hills in the Indian State of West Bengal.
A tuberous-rooted, herbaceous perennial plant grows 1.0 metre tall by 0.5 metres wide and tolerant of many soil types. It is in flower from August to September. The flowers are pollinated by Bees. Aconitum ferox forms the principal source of the Indian poison known variously as bikh, bish, and nabee.Aconitum ferox forms the principal source of the Indian poison known variously as bikh, bish, and nabee. It contains large quantities of the extremely toxic alkaloid pseudaconitine (also known as nepaline, after Nepal) and is considered to be the most poisonous plant found in the Himalaya and one of the most poisonous in the world.
The symptoms of poisoning usually appear 45 minutes to an hour after the consumption of a toxic dose and consist of numbness of the mouth and throat and vomiting. Respiration slows and blood pressure synchronously falls to within 30-40 beats per minute and consciousness characteristically remains unclouded until the end, which consists usually of death by asphyxiation, although occasionally of death due to cardiac arrest.
Monier-Williams lists it as one of the definitions of or Bhringa.
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. Grows well in open woodlands. The root of this plant is widely collected from the wild for medicinal use and is becoming much rarer in much of its range. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes. Closely related to A. napellus
Edible Uses: Not known .
The dried root is alterative, anaesthetic, antiarthritic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative, stimulant. It is best harvested in the autumn as soon as the plant dies down. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It has been used in India and Nepal in the treatment of neuralgia, leprosy, fevers, cholera and rheumatism. When the roots are soaked in cow’s urine, they become soft and lose their depressant action on the heart, becoming a stimulant instead.
Other Uses: Not known
Known Hazards: The whole plant is highly toxic – simple skin contact has caused numbness in some people.
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