from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various plants of the genus Helleborus of the buttercup family, native to Eurasia, most species of which are poisonous.
  • noun Any of various plants of the genus Veratrum, especially V. viride of North America, having large leaves and greenish flowers and yielding toxic alkaloids used medicinally.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A plant of the genus Helleborus, of the natural order Ranunculaceæ, particularly H. niger, the black hellebore or Christmas rose, a native of southwestern Europe.
  • noun A name of similar plants of other genera.
  • noun The powdered root of American hellebore, used to destroy lice and caterpillars.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) A genus of perennial herbs (Helleborus) of the Crowfoot family, mostly having powerfully cathartic and even poisonous qualities. Helleborus niger is the European black hellebore, or Christmas rose, blossoming in winter or earliest spring. Helleborus officinalis was the officinal hellebore of the ancients.
  • noun (Bot.) Any plant of several species of the poisonous liliaceous genus Veratrum, especially Veratrum album and Veratrum viride, both called white hellebore.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A common garden flowering plant, Ranunculaceae helleborus, having supposed medicinal properties.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun perennial herbs of the lily family having thick toxic rhizomes
  • noun any plant of the Eurasian genus Helleborus


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English ellebre, from Old French, from Latin elleborus, from Greek helleboros : perhaps hellos, fawn + -boros, eaten (from bibrōskein, to eat).]



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  • "He then banteringly advised them to import six shiploads of hellebore of the very best quality, and on its arrival distribute it among the citizens, at least seven pounds per head, but to the senators double that quantity, as they were bound to have an extra supply of sense."

    - prologue to first edition of 'The Robbers' (Die Räuber), Friederich Schiller, 1781. Translator unknown.

    December 17, 2007

  • I love hellebores.

    December 17, 2007

  • "Now the doctors had it all their own way; and to work they went in earnest, and they gave the poor professor divers and sundry medicines, as prescribed by the ancients and moderns, from Hippocrates to Feuchtersleben, as below, viz.:-

    1. Hellebore, to wit -

    Hellebore of Aeta.

    Hellebore of Galatia.

    Hellebore of Sicily.

    And all other Hellebores, after the method of

    the Helleborizing Helleboreists of the

    Helleboric era. But that would not do.

    Bumpsterhausen's blue follicles would not

    stir an inch out of his encephalo digital


    _from Water Babies - Charles Kingsley, 1937

    January 29, 2008

  • Here's a hellebore:

    February 1, 2008