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Veratrum viride

Veratrum viride Aiton

Veratrum eschscholtzianum (Schult. & Schult. f.) Rydb. ex A. Heller

Veratrum eschscholtzii A. Gray

Veratrum eschscholtzii A. Gray var. incriminatum B. Boivin

Veratrum viride Aiton ssp. eschscholtzii (A. Gray) A. Löve & D. Löve

Veratrum viride Aiton var. eschscholtzii (A. Gray) Breitung

False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderLilialesIncludes lilies, tulips, trilliums, greenbriars, and others
FamilyMelanthiaceaeTrillium family
GenusVeratrumLatin for “dark roots”; also the ancient name of Hellebore
Speciesviride“Deep green”

About plant names...

False hellebore is native to the eastern and western areas of the US and Canada. It has a penchant for moist meadows and open forests. A name as colorful as false hellebore deserves a little research. Turns out false hellebore is so named because it looks like real hellebore, which in turn is a member of the Helleborus species. And Helleborus derives from the Greek name for H. orientalis, ἑλλέβορος (helléboros), from elein ”to injure,” and βορά (borá), ”food.” (In botany, “false” means “easily confused with a similar, previously named plant.”)

Identification: This is a rather handsome looking species, making a rather prominent impression in wooded habitats. Plants are 28-79" (70-200 cm) in height, with large leaves 4-14" (10-35 cm) × 1¾-8" (5-20 cm) spirally arranged around a straight stem. Leaves are elliptic to broadly lanceolate, with conspicuous parallel ribs and hairy undersides. Flowers are arranged in a conical shape atop the plant, 12-28" (30-70 cm) tall; individual flowers are star-shaped, hairy, ⅛-⅜" (5-12 mm) long, and green, with six green or yellow green tepals. It flowers from July to August. Fruits are a small capsule.

Edibility: Skull & Crossbones Poisonous. Any part of this plant, especially the roots, induces nausea and vomiting, followed by drops in respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, often leading to death. It is poisonous to animals as well as people. If eaten, the result is burning of the mouth and throat, salivation, headache, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, sweating, and convulsions.

Medical: In the 1950s and 60s, standardized preparations derived from false hellebore were used to bring overly fast heart rates and high blood pressure down. The practice was later discontinued.

Online References:

Veratrum viride on Wikipedia

Veratrum viride on the New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site

Veratrum viride on plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Veratrum viride on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Veratrum viride on newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/2/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 20 × 19" (50 × 48 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 17 × 12" (44 × 29 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

4/23/2016 · Big Tree/Porcupine Trail, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, MA

Veratrum viride description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 Dec 2016.

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Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 21 × 14" (53 × 35 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 9 × 11" (23 × 28 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/13/2012 · Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest, Lowell, MA
≈ 28 × 36" (71 × 91 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

4/29/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 25 × 20" (62 × 50 cm)

Veratrum viride (False Hellebore, Green False Hellebore, Indian Poke, American Hellebore)

5/3/2014 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 4 × 2½' (1.2 × 0.8 m)

Range:

About this map...