Aconitum hemsleyanum

Aconitum hemsleyanum

Habitat: 

This plant prefers full sun to partial-shade, and moist human rich soil that never completely dries out. As with clematis, it is best to have the foliage in full sun and the base of the plant in shade. The entire plant is highly toxic when ingested.

Distribution:

Central and western provinces of China.

Feeding:

Annual application of fresh composted material and regular foliar feeds duing the growing season.

Description:

An unusual, climbing species to 3 metres, with very slender, twining stems. In late summer and autumn it produces loose, drooping clusters of hooded, dark blue or violet flowers.

Background:

A. hemsleyanum was named in honour of William Botting Hemsley (1843-1924), British botanist. Hemsley spent his career at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He wrote reports on botanical specimens collected during the HMS Challenger expedition of 1872-1876. A. hemsleyanum was introduced by Augustine Henry. Henry was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1857. He was raised and educated in Ireland, where he trained as a doctor at Queen’s University, Belfast, and graduated in 1878. In 1881 the Chinese Imperial Customs Service, which was a Chinese governmental office that hired mostly Europeans, employed him as an Assistant Medical Officer. Henry had an uncanny ability with languages, and soon spoke Chinese well enough to earn the respect of local officials in Shanghai and improve greatly the efficiency of the customs house. He moved to the remote settlement of Ichang in 1882 where he was assigned the additional task of finding medicinal plants. He soon developed a great love of botany and, as with all things he undertook in life, studied it intently. It is reported that in his time in China Henry sent back to England over 15,000 herberium specimens. Many of his discoveries were later introduced by E.H Wilson including Acer henryi, Rhododenron augustinii, Vitis henryana, Spirea henryi and Lilium henryi.

Availibility:

Not readily available in Australia. Often grown from seed imported from European and British sources.