Whatever type of garden you are trying to develop, this is a must have plant. Cathy Isom fills you in about the magical wintertime flower that is famous for its dark past. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
The Hellebore plant is an evergreen, wintertime flower that was named after its famous use as a poison. Ancient Greeks used Hellebore in battle to poison a besieged city’s water supply, and in smaller doses to supposedly cure madness. The flower may resemble a rose, but it’s actually a member of the buttercup family. It thrives in seasons of dying light and cold, frozen soil. They’re frost-resistant and range anywhere from pale green to deep maroon-black in color. They bloom between midwinter and early spring, often springing up out of the snow.
In ancient times, Hellebore was often given to dispel worms and intestinal parasites. But because of its dangerous toxicity, it was easy to overdose on. While ancient herbalists occasionally used hellebore to heal, its primary role was more sinister. Basically, it was most often used as a poison. Its unlucky victims eventually died of cardiac arrest after nausea, vomiting, tongue and throat swelling, and a slowed heart rate.
This flower tends to be burning and acrid in its interactions with the human body. As a result, careless handling can cause skin irritations and ulcers. It’s best to handle hellebore with gloves and keep this plant out of the reach of children and pets.
These days, everyone avoids taking hellebore. If you’re hoping to create a darkly themed garden, whether it’s a witch’s garden, a poisoner’s garden, a medieval garden, or a goth garden, hellebore’s magical history and folklore make it an ideal addition.
I’m Cathy Isom…