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Helleborus niger - L.
                 
Common Name Black Hellebore
Family Ranunculaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[9, 10, 65], this poison can possibly be absorbed through the skin[76]. The fresh root can be a violent irritant to sensitive skin[244].
Habitats Woods and thickets, mainly in mountains, on calcareous soils[50, 187]. Sometimes also found in grassland[187].
Range S.E. and C. Europe.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade

Summary

Helleborus niger Black Hellebore


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Helleborus_niger0.jpg
Helleborus niger Black Hellebore
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Wildfeuer
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Helleborus niger is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jan to February, and the seeds ripen from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Antiemetic;  Cardiac;  Cathartic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Emmenagogue;  Homeopathy;  
Irritant;  Miscellany;  Narcotic;  Parasiticide;  Purgative.

Black hellebore is a very poisonous plant that is toxic when taken in all but the smallest doses. As such it should not be taken except under professional supervision. The plant contains cardiac glycosides which have a similar action to the foxglove (Digitalis spp) and it has been used as a heart stimulant for the elderly, though this treatment is no longer recommended[254]. The root is anthelmintic, cardiac, cathartic, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, irritant, violently narcotic and a drastic purgative[4, 9, 21, 46, 240]. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[4]. It has been used in the treatment of dropsy, amenorrhoea, nervous disorders and hysteria, but it is very poisonous and great care must be taken over the dosage[4]. The root is also applied externally as a local irritant[4], but even this should be done with care, see notes above on toxicity. A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots[9]. It is used in the treatment of headaches, psychic disorders, enteritis and spasms[9].
Other Uses
Miscellany;  Parasiticide.

Used as a parasiticide against body lice, fleas etc[76]. This use is somewhat dangerous, see the notes above on toxicity. The powdered root has been used as a snuff[245]. Plants are suitable for ground cover when spaced about 45cm apart each way[208].
Cultivation details
Cultivation of this plant is not always easy, it prefers a rich limy soil in partial shade[187]. Succeeds in any good garden soil[1], growing and flowering best in a moist well-drained rich loam in a sheltered position in partial shade[1, 4, 31, 111, 244]. Succeeds when grown in the shade of a north-facing wall[233]. Does not object to lime[1]. Grows well in heavy clay soils[200]. Dislikes drought. Slugs are very fond of this plant and it will probably require some protection from them[187]. The various species in this genus hybridize freely[95]. Plants can flower in three years from seed[4]. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties[187]. Plants resent root disturbance and are slow to re-establish when divided[244]. They are best left undisturbed for 6 - 7 years before being divided[244]. Seedling plants should be placed in their permanent positions whilst still small[200]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].
Propagation
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[1, 134]. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible[1], it usually germinates in the autumn to spring. Seed can take 18 months to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. This species produces flowering plants in 2 - 3 years from seed[200]. Division after flowering or in autumn. Take care since the plant resents disturbance[111, 200].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Helleborus foetidusStinking Hellebore, Setterwort, Bear's Foot, Bearsfoot, Setterwort, Stinkwort, Stinking Hellebore02
Helleborus viridisGreen Hellebore02
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Expert comment
 
Author
L.
Botanical References
50200
Links / References
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Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Joseph Woodard Tue Jul 18 2006

The Genus Helleborus: Helleborus niger

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Subject : Helleborus niger  

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