Pretty & Toxic
I came across this lovely plant in the mountains. Still carrying and spreading the Hunger Games fever , I convinced my mother-in-law to read the french version of the series. Now, my husband is very much glued to it. We spent our days hiking in the forests talking about Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark.
This beautiful herb with dark green leaves is known as Aconite (Aconitum - greek meaning - without struggle), also known as wolf's bane or monkshood. L'aconit Napel (Aconitum Napellus) in french. Usually found in mountain meadows, surviving well in moisture retentive areas.
Pretty but deadly. Holding a leaf in one's sweaty fingers can lead one to die in an hour. It can easily be absorbed through the skin. If ingested orally, it could lead to death instantly. This particular specie can be found in the Cantal mountains in France.
Other aconite species can be found in the Northern hemisphere. In the Himalayas, a more toxic version, Aconitum ferox is available, that could kill someone in the same hand contact without gloves through open pores within 15 minutes. Known to be used in poison arrows to hunt.
So the next time you find these lovelies while camping or hiking, stay, stay away.