Celebrating World Environment Day: Saving Ohio’s Endangered Northern Wild Monkshood!

Posted June 5, 2024 by Aislyn Tyler

June 5th is World Environment Day! Today, we encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. More than anything else, this day serves as a reminder to sow native plants in order to support our endemic ecosystems! Read on to learn about an Ohio native endangered plant species that CREW Plant Scientist are working to save and restore.

Monkshood plant growing in its natural habitat in Ohio
Monkshood plant growing in its natural habitat in Ohio

Aconitum noveboracense has much lore surrounding its name. You may know this plant as wolfbane, which gets its name from being used to repel werewolves during the Middle Ages. It contains several compounds that are toxic to humans as well.

This plant’s common name is Northern Wild Monkshood. It is a purple flowering species found only in Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and in the Catskill Mountains of New York. It is a federally classified threatened species that lives in unique microenvironments on cliff faces with running streams. Due to these conditions, soil and surrounding air temperatures are typically cooler compared to regional temperatures. In Ohio, it is listed as endangered due to salt runoff from a nearby road that has drastically changed the soil’s chemistry.

Right now, CREW plant scientists are running different experiments, trying to figure out the best techniques to prepare the Monkshood grown in culture for restoration with the ultimate goal of de-listing!

Monkshood plant in culture (test tube) spontaneously blooming