FDA: *Mis*labelled Poisonous Plant, Autumn Monkshood

Gary Greenberg Gary.Greenberg at Duke.edu
Sat Apr 28 06:51:14 EST 2001

FDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency Warn Against Consuming
Mislabeled Poisonous Plant Called Autumn Monkshood


Print Media: 301-827-6242
April 25, 2001
Broadcast Media: 301-827-3434
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning
consumers not to consume a poisonous flowering perennial plant known as
Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’, commonly called Autumn Monkshood.
Valleybrook Gardens, Ltd., a Canadian nursery located in British
Columbia is known to have distributed the plants with the incorrect
labels to other nurseries in British Columbia, Washington State and
Idaho, but full distribution is not known at this time. The packages
were mistakenly labeled with the statement, “All parts of this plant are
tasty in soup,” instead of indicating that the plant is poisonous. 

All parts of this plant are poisonous. Cooking will not detoxify the
toxic compounds. The poisonous element is known as aconitine. Symptoms
of aconitine poisoning are burning or tingling in the mouth or tongue,
tingling in the four limbs, generalized muscular weakness,
gastrointestinal distress and cardiovascular complications. Death could
occur due to ventricular arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) or direct
paralysis of the heart. 

The plants are packaged in blue plastic pots, 11 cm x 11 cm
(approximately 4½ inches x 4½ inches). The pots are shipped in flats of
eight or 16. The label reads in part, “Heritage Premier - Autumn
Monkshood- Perennial - Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’. This late
flowering selection has incredible, tall spikes of deep violet-blue,
hooded flowers. Attractive dark green glossy foliage...” Distribution
started on March 4, 2001, and the first plants had been received by
accounts in mid-April. Approximately 1,500 plants are believed to have
been sold so far.

There are no known illnesses or injuries at this time. 

Valleybrook Gardens has called all of its accounts and notified them of
the situation, and asked them to pull the incorrect labels. 

If any part of this plant has been ingested, FDA urges consumers to seek
immediate medical attention. Concerned consumers with questions may call
Valleybrook Gardens Ltd. at 604/855-1177, extension 111.

FDA Talk Papers are prepared by the Press Office to guide FDA personnel
in responding with consistency and accuracy to questions from the public
on subjects of current interest. Talk Papers are subject to change as
more information becomes available. 

Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH    Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
gary.greenberg at duke.edu     Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
OEM-L Maillist Website:                      http://occhealthnews.net


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