Black Hellebore (Veratrum nigrum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Black Hellebore
Veratrum nigrum

The dried and powdered root is used as an insecticide and a parasiticide[172]. It is also effective against caterpillars and mammals so great caution is advised[1, 19, 20].

  • Medicinal Use

    The root is anthelmintic, emetic, errhine, expectorant, laxative and vermifuge[178, 218]. This herb is highly toxic and should not be used internally, or even externally, without expert guidance[K].

    The whole plant is analgesic[218].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    All parts of the plant are highly poisonous[178, 200].

Cultivation & Habitat

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].
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]. Plants are hardy to about -25¡c[187], especially if they are given a protective mulch in the winter. The flowers smell of rotten fruit and are visited by flies[187]. 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].
S. Europe to E. Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.