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Veratrum album - L.

Common Name White Hellebore, White false hellebore
Family Melanthiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are highly poisonous[7, 10, 19, 65].
Habitats Moist grassy sub-alpine meadows and open woods[187].
Range Europe. E. Asia - Siberia. N. Africa.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Veratrum album White Hellebore, White false hellebore


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Veratrum album White Hellebore, White false hellebore
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Veratrum album is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Jul to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, lepidoptera. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

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.

Analgesic;  Anthelmintic;  Antiemetic;  Cathartic;  Emetic;  Errhine;  Expectorant;  Hypnotic;  
Sternutatory.

The root is analgesic, anthelmintic, cathartic, emetic, errhine, expectorant, hypnotic and sternutatory[4, 7, 9, 178, 192]. The root is very poisonous, with a paralyzing effect on the nervous system, and is scarcely if ever used internally[4, 7], though the alkaloids it contains are used in the pharmaceutical industry[9]. It is occasionally used externally as a local analgesic, though even this is not without its dangers since it can be absorbed through broken skin[4, 7]. It is also used in veterinary medicine[244]. The root is harvested in early autumn and is dried for later use[7].

Other Uses

Insecticide.

The dried and powdered root contains pyrethrums and is used as an insecticide and a parasiticide[1, 7, 19, 20]. It is also effective against caterpillars and mammals so great caution is advised[1, 19, 20].

Cultivation details

Requires a deep fertile moisture retentive humus-rich soil[200]. Succeeds in full sun if the soil does not dry out but prefers a position in semi-shade[200]. Dislikes dry soils[42]. Grows best in a cool woodland garden or a north facing border[42]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Plants are long-lived and can be left in the same position for years without attention[233].

Propagation

Unless stored in damp sand at around 4°c the seed has a short viability[200]. Where possible it is best to sow the seed in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[200]. Stored seed needs to be stratified but can be very slow to germinate. Germination can be erratic even for seed sown when it was fresh, it usually takes place within 3 - 12 months at 15°c but can be much longer[200]. The plant produces just one seedleaf in its first year, this forms an over-wintering bulb. It takes up to 10 years for the plant to reach maturity[200]. Sow the seed thinly so there is no need to thin or transplant them, and grow the seedlings on undisturbed in the pot for their first two years of growth. Apply a liquid feed at intervals through the growing season to ensure the plants do not become nutrient deficient. At the end of the second year plant out the dormant plants into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for a further year or two before planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division in March/April or in October. Establish the plants in pots in a shaded frame before planting them out[200]. Division is best carried out in the autumn because the plants come into growth very early in the spring[233]. Root cuttings, 6mm long with a bud, rooted in a sandy soil in a cold frame[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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
Veratrum californicumCalifornia False Hellebore02
Veratrum maackii parviflorum 11
Veratrum nigrumBlack Hellebore01
Veratrum virideIndian Poke, American Hellebore12

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

50200

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Subject : Veratrum album  
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