picture of Helleborus

Hellebore, a winter flowering plant.

Not many plants look their best in the winter time and even more plants are completely gone this time of year. So maybe that is one reason why the Hellebore can get away with nodding her head down towards the roots and still catch the attention of a passerby. 
Often called Winter- or Lenten Rose, Hellebore is not actually related to the Rose but belongs in the Ranunculaceae family. This popular Winter flowering plant is native to Eastern Europe where it grows in open meadows in Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and more.

Naturally found in alkaline soils, she is remarkably tolerant of acidic soils as well. Planted in part shade, Hellebores will thriving in rich, organic soil in zones 5 to 9. This plants tolerates dry summer soil but becomes a heavy consumer of water when actively growing, which can be from fall to spring, depending on the variety.
New plants can be had by dividing clumps in Spring every few years, or from seedlings that grow up around the old plant.

 The Hellebore's 'flower' consists not of petal but of sepals, whos function is to protects the flower part, which is actually at the center of the showy sepals, consisting of a cluster of finely textured stamens and rather small and insignificant petals.Hellebore flower
Hellebore can make a beautiful cut-flower but keep a few things in mind. First off, all parts are toxic and it is wise to protect your hands when working with them as the sap can irritate the skin. some say the smell can be somewhat offensive however it's only the leaves smell bad, the flowers are odorless. 
When cutting the flowers look for the most mature blooms, they will last longer than the fresh buds. However you can use the younger stems by cutting the stems short (the shorter the better) with a sharp knife and also prick the stem below the flower, just under the calyx. They are often seen floating in water but my own experience leaves me to belief that these blooms do great in any bouquet, however I have not used them in foam. Adding CVBN tablets to the water also helps with the longevity of the blooms.     

Hellebores come in many different colors from near black, purple, rose-pink, green, yellow and white.

The meaning of Hellebores.
In the days when messages were send in the language of flowers, using Hellebores in a bouquet meant; scandal and calumny. Receiving such a flowers the recipient would perceive the message as a wish to to overcome or prevent such disaster. In that light I think we should put much more Hellebores in bouquets and arrangements, who could not use a bit of flower power to overcome just that type of trouble?
The name Hellebore was probably derived from the Greek word elein  meaning "to injure" and bora meaning "food".
In the early days of medicine, two kind if Hellebore were recognized, White and Black hellebore. However White Hellebore is in fact not a Hellebore at all but a plant known as Veratrum Album belonging to the Melanthiaceae family. This was likely the "Hellebore" Hippocrates used as a purgative.
Black Hellebore, also a toxic has been used historically as a purgative, but also for many different afflictions such as paralysis, gout and more, in particular it was used for insanity.
Nowadays the plant still plays a role in conventional hearth medicine. 

IN Medicine:                                                     
The homeopathic remedy Helleborus is mainly used to treat depression. Patients who require this medication are extremely ill-tempered and become angry very easily. They prefer to be left alone and not disturbed by anyone. Such patients are extremely gloomy, desolate, mournful, silent or tremendously tormented. Helleborus, as a homeopathic remedy, is particularly apt for girls during puberty or at time when they do not have menstrual periods after having them for once or a few times. 

Please consult a properly trained homeopath before taking this remedy.

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