A plant belonging to the genus Helleborus. It is a type of buttercup with leaves at the base of the plant and flowers in clusters. Some species contain the organic chemical helleborein, which is used as a heart stimulant.

From the BioTech Dictionary at http://biotech.icmb.utexas.edu/. For further information see the BioTech homenode.

Called Lenten rose and Christmas rose. These common nicknames likely spring from their early blooming: in Cascadia, they are often among some of the first to bloom in the blustery weather. They have nodding, often downturned blossoms the shape of bells; to whit: "As the leaves of hellebore// turn to whence they sprung before"1.

Variants of hellebore come in both single and double petaled variants. Shades run the gamut from white, to pale green, to vivid magenta. Some species are even a pale grey not unlike that of iron, while others are a more regular red, yellow, or pink. Their leaves grow in clusters of seven to nine oblong, leaves with varying sizes of sawtoothed edges. Different cultivars may have anywhere from pale, sage-green leaves to a deep, dark, almost black greenery.

Hellebores are poisonous due to the presence of glycosides, saponin and helleborein. While it's unlikely to be directly fatal to humans without mass consumption, it is toxic to fatal for dogs, cats, and other animals. Skin contact may also cause rashes on exposed skin.

The Lenten rose propagates via long, rhizomatic roots not unlike that of invasive bamboo species. These may be spread by splitting and transplanting via a shovel in the fall. While initial plantings of this flower may call for compost, it's a hardy survivor once established. Tongue in cheek recommendations may be found for trimming it with a lawnmower, or otherwise entirely neglecting it in order to unlock their full potential.

1. John Keats, Hadst thou liv'd in days of old

Hel"le*bore (?), n. [L. helleborus, elleborus, Gr. , ; cf. F. hell'ebore, ell'ebore.]

1. Bot.

A genus of perennial herbs (Helleborus) of the Crowfoot family, mostly having powerfully cathartic and even poisonous qualities. H. niger is the European black hellebore, or Christmas rose, blossoming in winter or earliest spring. H. officinalis was the officinal hellebore of the ancients.

2. Bot.

Any plant of several species of the poisonous liliaceous genus Veratrum, especially V. album and V. viride, both called white hellebore.


© Webster 1913.

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