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Helleborus Helleborus orientalis

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
hel-eh-BORE-us or-ee-en-TAH-liss
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Lenten rose is a winter-blooming, broadleaf evergreen, clumping perennial in the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family and native to Asia Minor and Eurasia. 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, meaning black, refers to the color of the roots.

Lenten rose is easy to grow, requiring only a shady location and well-drained, moist soil with a neutral to alkaline pH. Growing 12 to 18 inches tall and wide, it will do best where it receives winter sunlight but is protected from the wind. It is intolerant of bright winter sun and high temperatures but is resistant to damage by deer browsing. 

This beautiful harbinger of spring has interesting, nodding flowers and large, dark green leaves. While there are numerous hybrid selections and species available, they are often difficult to distinguish and are misidentified in the trade.  

Use this plant in a border front, on patios, in containers, or other protected, shady spots, such as a woodland garden. It is an excellent choice for a late winter blooming display. 

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, and Other Plant Problems:  Fungal diseases can be a problem. The leaves and roots are poisonous.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

More information on Helleborus.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Backyard Respite Landscape Shaded Slope Dry Rock Stream Garden Shaded Slope Woodland Walk Shaded Slope Woodland Walk Four-Season Garden Shaded Slope Border Garden, Upcycled Small shade garden Entrance Statement, Fescue Grass Collector’s Garden Shaded Slope Border Garden- Pathway
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Royal Heritage'
    wide range of colors - purple, pink, rose, light green with spotted or contrasting colors
'Royal Heritage'
Tags:
#showy flowers#poisonous#small spaces#perennials#purple flowers#pink flowers#shade garden#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#spring flowers#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#moist soil#fast growing#cpp#well-drained soil#long-lasting flowers#deer resistant#groundcover#naturalizes#clumping#naturalized area#fantz#flowers early spring#poor soils tolerant#border front#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#HS302#flowers late winter#stormwater demo garden orange co#contact dermatitis#container plant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Royal Heritage'
    wide range of colors - purple, pink, rose, light green with spotted or contrasting colors
'Royal Heritage'
Tags:
#showy flowers#poisonous#small spaces#perennials#purple flowers#pink flowers#shade garden#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#spring flowers#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#moist soil#fast growing#cpp#well-drained soil#long-lasting flowers#deer resistant#groundcover#naturalizes#clumping#naturalized area#fantz#flowers early spring#poor soils tolerant#border front#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#HS302#flowers late winter#stormwater demo garden orange co#contact dermatitis#container plant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Helleborus
    Species:
    orientalis
    Family:
    Ranunculaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Asia Minor, Eurasia (Turkey, Caucasus)
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer resistant
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • 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:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Clustered, green, fleshy capsules, long-beaked, surrounded by persistent sepals.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Beautiful harbingers of spring, with interesting, nodding solitary winter flowers, 2.5" wide and saucer shaped. A stalked cyme or panicle, terminal, bracteated, often nodding; bracts gigantic, leaf-like, dark green, entire to sparsely toothed, +/- lobed. 1-many, usually greenish, tinted gold or brown, pink or purple, cup or bowl-shaped, nodding, 3-4" dia; sepals 5, showy, pigmented, broadly ovate-elliptic; inner petal segments numerous, consisting of tubular nectaries, green to greenish-yellow, ephemeral; stamens numerous, anther yellow.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Denticulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leathery, shiny, dark-green leaves palmately divided with 7-9 leaflets, edged with shallow teeth. 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
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Small Space
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Burning of mouth and throat, salivation, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nervous symptoms, depression; skin irritation after contact with cell sap
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Protoanemonin suspected
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems