Additional notes (click to expand)


Named for Dr JR Carmichael (d. 1877), English physician, plant collector and Protestant missionary in Guangdong and Shandong, China. He arrived in Hong Kong on 14 February 1862, accompanied by Mrs Hill and the Rev Jonathon Lees and Mrs Lees. Initially (1862–3), he was in charge of the hospital of the London Missionary Society in Canton. He then went into private medical practice in Che Foo (now called Yantai, in Shandong province) in northern China. He married the eldest sister of the American botanist and opium trader, Francis Blackwell Forbes, and assisted in the latter’s botanical collections at Che Foo in 1874 on behalf of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He died of ‘famine fever’, caught from his patients in the hospital he set up to deal with the great famine in northern China in 1877 (Bretschneider, 1898).
Oakeley, Dr. Henry. (2012). Doctors in the Medicinal Garden. Plants named after physicians. Royal College of Physicians. link


A widely used herbal remedy in China, where it is cultivated for its root. See notes on toxicity.,


The plant contains the toxic alkaloid aconitine and is very poisonous - should not be used internally unless under the direction of a qualified practitioner. Overdoses lead to numbness of the tongue, lips and extremities, nausea, vomiting, irritability and coma.,

Geographical distribution

  • Asia-Temperate, China

Aconitum carmichaelii Debeaux

Genus: Aconitum
Species: carmichaelii Debeaux
Common names: Japanese Aconite, Carmichael's monkshood
Distribution summary: China, Vietnam
Habit: Perennial
Hardiness: H7 - Very hardy
Habitat: Forest magins, scrub and grassy slopes
Garden status: Currently grown
Garden location: Far East (L)
Flowering months: August, September
Reason for growing: Commemorative, medicinal, toxic

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