Helleborus foetidus

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Helleborus foetidus
Helleborus foetidus

Stinking Hellebore
Binomial:Helleborus foetidus
Type:Herbaceous perennial
Light requirements:Sun to shade
Water requirements:Drought tolerant
Soil requirements:Rich, well-drained
Pruning season:After flowering
Transplant:Transplants easily
Disease issues:Some serious
Bloom season:Mid-winter to early spring
Weediness:Self-seeds freely
Height and spread:About 1 ft. high, to 2 ft. spread
Toxicity and edibility:Toxic if eaten, can cause rashes on exposed skin

Helleborus foetidus, known variously as Stinking hellebore, Dungwort, or Bear's foot, is a member of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to western Europe, from England south to Portugal, and east to Germany and Italy.

Description[edit | edit source]

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall and 100 cm across, with evergreen leaves. The flowers are yellowish-green, often with a purple edge to the five petal-like sepals on strongly upright stems. Foliage is pungent when crushed.

Growing Conditions[edit | edit source]

Helleborus foetidus prefers woodland conditions with deep, fertile, moist, humus rich, well drained soil, and dappled shade. The species is, however, drought tolerant.

Varieties[edit | edit source]

The cultivar Green Giant has very bright green flowers and finley divided foliage; Miss Jekyll has fragrant flowers, intensity varying with the time of day; Wester Flisk Group has red tinted leaves and stems and gray-green flowers; the Sierra Nevada Group is dwarf reaching 30 cm.

Uses[edit | edit source]

It is grown in gardens for its handsome evergreen foliage and large numbers green, bell shaped flowers borne in late winter. Because of its toxicity, it is often grown where Deer are a problem.

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

This plant tends to be somewhat short-lived in the garden, but replaces itself well with copious seedlings. Deadhead to prevent reseeding, and remove the plant if it has blackened leaves or stems.

Propagation[edit | edit source]

Propagations is via division or from seed, which can be prolific, naturalising well in ideal conditions.

Pests and Diseases[edit | edit source]

(see Helleborus for a discussion of pests and diseases).

References[edit | edit source]