Stainless Steel

'Stainless Steel'

Faust: Nay, let me have one book more,
& then I have done,
wherein I might see all plants, herbs,
& trees that grow upon the earth.

-Christopher Marlowe


Stainless Steel 'Stainless Steel' Monkshood was introduced in 1998, so is a relatively recent variety. It is more compact & lush than the wild species, Aconitum cammarum, or Bi-color Monkshood, pollinated by a high-altitude species of aconite from the Himalayas, A. spicatum.

It grows into a one or two foot clump of deeply divided leaves, with three to four foot spikes of helmet-flowers. It usually flower July & August, but depending on zone & conditions it can flower earlier or later. The photos here are from mid-June.

The blooms are a remarkable steel-blue or silver-sheened pallid violet, fading to cream at the interior. The flower spikes tend not to be too awfully tall & aren't usually tippy, so in most cases won't require staking.

It prefers partial to bright shade in rich moist well-draining acidic soil. Here in the Northwest it will do well in more sun though it will be more important that the soil remain moist. In full sun the flowers won't be as long-lasting. Inland it would be much more important to offer it protection from too much sun.

After several years, it will become a very broad clump. Although monkshoods dislike being dug up & divided, it may after a very long time seem to have tired from old age due to the excessive size of the clump, & disrupting it for division may prove inescapable.

It is essential to educate children about any such plants as monkshood growing in your garden. Seriously toxic plants should perhaps not be planted at all if there are going to be unsupervised toddlers in the gardens, such as do occasionaly decide bright flowers look like candy & eat them.

But mild paranoia about such danger would seem to be sufficient, as when I tried to track down examples of monkshood accidents injuring children or pets, I could find not even an unusual rare case, despite that these perennials are so popularly gardened. There are, however, many cases of intentional & very successful misuse of aconite roots for purposes of murder.


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[Shade Perennials] — [Ferns]
[Sun Perennials] — [ Sun-garden Herbs]
[Hardy Geraniums & Heucheras] — [Creepers & Vines]
[Monkshoods & Delphiniums]
[Bulbs & Corms] — [Jack-in-the-Pulpits]
[Evergreen Trees] — [Deciduous Trees]
[Rhododendrons, Azaleas, & Camellias]
[Evergreen Shrubs — [Deciduous Shrubs]
[Succulents] — [Miscellaneous]

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