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“Pipichari has given mea small quantity of the poisonous paste, and has also taken me to see the plant from the root of which it is made, the Aconitum japonicum, a monkshood, whose tall spikes of blue flowers are brightening the brushwood in all directions. The Ainos [sic] say that if a man is accidentally wounded by a poison arrow, the only cure is immediate excision of the part.”

“Unbeaten Tracks in Japan”By Isabella Bird (Virago Press)

The Japanese name for this hooded flower means “bird’s helmet,” and a second old English name is wolfsbane, which implies that it will poison wolves. When Isabella Bird traveled to remote Hokkaido in 1878, the native Ainu still led a traditional way of life, hunting their sacred bears with poisoned arrows. Although Bird regretted their inevitable decline in the face of modernization, she did approve of a recent move by the Japanese government to prohibit poisoned arrow traps, for when set up in the forest, “they made locomotion unsafe.”