Helleborus viridis

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Green hellebore
Helleborus viridis 003.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Helleborus
H. viridis
Binomial name
Helleborus viridis

Helleborus viridis, commonly called green hellebore,[1][2] is a perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, native to Central and Western Europe, including England. All parts of the plant are poisonous.[3]

The green hellebore was one of the many plants first described by Linnaeus in volume one of his 1753 tenth edition of his Species Plantarum.[4] The species name is the Latin adjective viridis, "green". Two subspecies are recognised, subspecies viridis from Central Europe and the maritime Alps, and subspecies occidentalis from western Europe including England.[5]

Other common names recorded include bastard hellebore, bear's foot and boar's foot.[6]

Growing to around 60 cm (2 ft) high, the green hellebore is a perennial plant. The flowers appear in spring (February to April).[3] They have five large green oval sepals with pointed tips, and seven to twelve much smaller petals. The roots are rhizomatous.[7] Subspecies viridis has flowers of 4–5 cm diameter and leaves covered with fine hairs, while the flowers of subspecies occidentalis are smaller (3–4 cm diameter) and its leaves are smooth.[8]

The green hellebore is found in Western and Central Europe, east to eastern Austria and south to northern Italy.[5] It grows on limestone and chalk-based soils in the south of England.[3]

The green hellebore has become weedy in North America, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and northern Germany.[7]

Consumption of any part of the plant can lead to severe vomiting and seizures.[3] Its purgative properties meant that it was traditionally used as a folk remedy to treat worms in children and topically to treat lice.[3]


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ "Helleborus viridis". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e North, Pamela Mildred (1967). Poisonous plants and fungi in color. London: Blandford Press. p. 117. OCLC 955264.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1753). "Tomus I". Species Plantarum (in Latin). Stockholm: Laurentii Salvii. p. 558.
  5. ^ a b "Helleborus viridis L". Flora Europaea. Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  6. ^ Wagstaff, D. Jesse (2008). International Poisonous Plants Checklist: An Evidence-Based Reference. CRC Press. p. 188. ISBN 9781420062533.
  7. ^ a b Moss, Charles Edward (1914). The Cambridge British Flora. Cambridge University Press. p. 108.
  8. ^ Servettaz, O.; Colombo, M. L.; Tomè, F. (1988). "Taxonomical investigations on Helleborus viridis s. l. (Ranunculaceae) in Northern Italy". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 160 (3–4): 181–88. doi:10.1007/BF00936045. S2CID 30745075.

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