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Lenten Rose Helleborus niger

Phonetic Spelling
hel-eh-BORE-us NY-jer
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Black hellebore is a winter-blooming evergreen perennial in the Ranunculaceae family.  They are often called Christmas roses because they bloom around Christmas in warmer regions and in early spring in cooler areas. The scientific name comes from the Greek words 'helein', meaning injures, and 'bora', meaning food, referring to the toxic properties when the plant is eaten.  The specific name 'niger', which means black, is in reference to the color of the roots.

Plant in partial to full shade with organically enriched soil. It is intolerant of bright winter sun and high temperatures but is resistant to damage by deer browsing.  They grow to a height of 9 to 12 inches tall with stemless basal leaves and have large, bowl-shaped, white flowers with yellow stamens that appear late winter to very early spring. They are an excellent cut flower and are attractive when set floating in a bowl of water.  

Utilize this in a border front, in patio plantings, along walkways, or other in protected, shady spots like under shade trees or large shrubs. It is an excellent choice for long, winter blooming display so place it where its blooms will be enjoyed.   It will self-seed easily and when planted in small groups or mass planted it makes an attractive clumping groundcover even when the flowers are spent.

While there are numerous hybrid selections and species available, they are often difficult to distinguish and are misidentified in the trade.  The common name lenten rose is used for many of them though it is a name historically associated with H. orientalis

Quick ID Hints:

  • Flowers nodding, petaloid sepals
  • Short plant with stiff, large, evergreen leaves 
  • Leaves are palmately divided into many leaflets
  • Flower center of numerous stamens outlined by tubular nectaries, or fleshy, beaked capsules

Insects, Diseases, Other Plant Problems:  Aphids and slugs are occasional pests.  Fungal diseases can be a problem. The leaves and roots are poisonous.

 

 

More information on Helleborus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Double Fantasy'
    Semi-double, outward-facing blooms on tall stems, with ruffled white petals
  • 'HGC Jacob'
    Large, long-lasting white flowers which mature to green and are tinged with pink in colder climates
'Double Fantasy', 'HGC Jacob'
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#houseplant#drought tolerant#perennials#cut flowers#shade garden#broadleaf evergreen#shelter#winter interest#cottage garden#mass planting#cpp#well-drained soil#deer resistant#alkaline soils tolerant#fantz#early spring flowers#border front#walkway planting#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#HS302#Christmas decorations#problem for cats#late winter flowers#problem for dogs#problem for horses#container plants#dry shade
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Double Fantasy'
    Semi-double, outward-facing blooms on tall stems, with ruffled white petals
  • 'HGC Jacob'
    Large, long-lasting white flowers which mature to green and are tinged with pink in colder climates
'Double Fantasy', 'HGC Jacob'
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#houseplant#drought tolerant#perennials#cut flowers#shade garden#broadleaf evergreen#shelter#winter interest#cottage garden#mass planting#cpp#well-drained soil#deer resistant#alkaline soils tolerant#fantz#early spring flowers#border front#walkway planting#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#HS302#Christmas decorations#problem for cats#late winter flowers#problem for dogs#problem for horses#container plants#dry shade
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Helleborus
    Species:
    niger
    Family:
    Ranunculaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    alpine and open woodlands in central and southern Europe
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 9 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Clustered, green, fleshy capsules, long-beaked, surrounded by persistent sepals.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Solitary cup shaped 3 inches across with 5 white to rose sepals and showy yellow stamens.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Waxy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Dark green bastal alternate, palmately divided with 7-9 leaflets. Basal or cauline, palmately compound, coriaceous, glabrous; petiloes elongate, peltate; leaflets 3-9, irregularly toothed or serrate.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stout, rhizomatous or exposed.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heavy Shade
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. SKIN IRRITATION MINOR, OR LASTING ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES. Burning of mouth and throat, salivation, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nervous symptoms, depression. Skin irritation after contact with cell sap.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cardiac glycosides, saponins, Protoanemonin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems