Hellebore’s, also known as the Christmas Rose, or Lenten Rose, is a poisonous member of the Buttercup family. From ancient times folklore says the herb has been categorized as a ‘Baneful Herb,’ plants used in Black Magic to cause death, or severe illness by a person with evil and malicious intentions. One bite of Hellebore would burn a person’s mouth and stop anyone from ingesting the plant.
As a magical herb it is said to be more powerful when used in potions during the full moon. In lore it was used for banishing evil spirits and in necromancy, or communicating with the dead. It was considered an herb of torment to curse people and place curses on them. In ancient times witches were said to use the herb to cause madness in people.
The herb also was said to be used as an ingredient in flying potions and to cause invisibility. It allowed the wizard or the witch to move about freely without bring attention to themselves.
In my 415 Raspberry Picket Trilogy (415RaspberryPicket.com) the characters use Hellebore throughout the novels in flying spells to escape harm and in invisibility spells to spy on the enemy without getting caught.
I have over twenty-five Hellebore’s growing in my city garden. They like dappled shade and moisture and are easy to grow. In some years the leaves are evergreen. It is amazing to see them bloom in late winter and early spring. I have seen them blooming in the snow in late February. In medieval times people felt people who grew blooming plants during the snowy days of winter must be witches using powerful magic!
They bloom in a variety of colors, and several double varieties are now being offered. Hellebores blooming is a wonderful welcoming sight after along winter. I have found them easy to grow. They clump of flowers will increase in size with time. After they bloom the flowers become almost paper-like and stay on the plant for several weeks.
As with many plants in our gardens, Hellebores are poisonous and care should be taken handling the plant. To see the first bloom of a hellebore peeking out of the snow in late February or March (depending where you live) is a glorious sight to see!