The medicinal plant Aconitum heterophyllum is a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. This page includes its habitat, botanical descption, medicinal uses (eg., Ayurveda), chemical constituents and history of use in modern and ancient India.
Index in Flora of British India (Hooker): 1. 29.
Synonyms:—Aconitum cordatum, Royle.
Sanskrit:—Sanskrit writers describe two varieties of this root:—(1) white and (2) black. The synonyms of the white variety are:—Ativisha (very poisonous); Sukla Kanda (white root); Visha (poisonous); Prativisha (Counter-poison or antidote). The Synonyms of the second variety are:—Shyama
Kanda (black root); Sitashringi (white-horned); Bhangura (frail); Upavishanika (the horns or rootlets turned upwards).
Vern:—Atis (H.); Ati-vadayam (Tam.); Ati-vasa (Tel.); Mohand-i-gujsafed; hong-i-Safed (Kashmir) A’is (Bhotie) Sukhihari, Chitijari; Patris or Patis; bonga (Pb.); Atavishni-Kali; Ativish or Ativakh (Guz.); Ativish (Mar.).
Habitat:— Common in the Subalpine and Alpine Zone of the Himalaya, from the Indus to Kumaon, from 6,000 to 15,000 ft.
Botanical description:—Stem: Erect, leafy, 1-3ft., simple or branched from the base, glabrous below, puberulous above.
Leaves: 2-4 in. broad ovate or orbicular. Cordate, acute or obtuse; cauline sharply toothed, the lowest long-petioled and not amplexicaul.
Racemes: often panicled, many-flowered. Bracts sharply toothed, upper 3-fid or entire.
Flowers: more than 1 in. long, bright blue, greenish blue, with purple veins.
Helmet: half as high as long, shortly beaked.
Follicles: 5, downy.
Alkaloid constituents:—The roots contain an alkaloid, atisine.
Part used:—The root.
Medicinal uses:—The root is officinal in the Indian Pharmacopoeia. Tonic and antiperiodic properties are attributed to it.