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Green Hellebore, this is a fairly rare plant in the wild though many people are familiar with the garden varieties of Hellebore, often referred to as Christmas Rose. The garden types produce flowers of varying colours from yellows through greens and pinks/purples. However they are always quite dull colours, they remind me of Farrow and Ball paints, all very trendy, pastel, chalky, colours. The wild species has pastel green flowers…. It flowers early in the year, February and so far I do not have any photos of it in flower. The photo below was taken at the beginning of May and shows the developing seed pods.  

The seeds are exactly the same shape as the individual seeds that make up the seed heads found on buttercups only much larger. This indicates that the plant is in the same family Rannunculacae.

 

The plant is native but has been grown in gardens since Medieval times. These photos were obtained from a small group of this plant growing by the outer wall of Lancutt church on the banks of the river Wye. It is quite likely that the plants were planted there in the vicinity of the church several hundred years ago when the church was still fully functioning.

It is a plant of fairly low distribution, it will only grow where the soil is based on lime or is alkaline, so that restricts its range, also it is largely found in the south of the UK, there are very few records from Scotland. The Wye valley up as far as Ross does have several records, many of them are historic. For some reason the plant seems to have declined in recent years.

It is poisonous and if eaten will cause vomiting. It was used as a medicinal herb years ago and given to children to rid them of worms!!! Also it was rubbed in their hair to rid them of head lice. I think I would stick with the worms.

To check out other wildflowers found in the woods of the Wye valley and Ninewells wood click Woodland Wildflowers of the Wye valley and Monmouthshire.

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