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Home / Nature - Plants / Wild Plants - December / Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)
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Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)

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Stinking Hellebore is an erect plant with dark blue-green lower leaves each with 3 - 9 narrower segments that rise from two arches on the tip of the leaf stalks. The green flowers are cup-like and develop purple edges to the green sepals. The plant flowers from January to April. It grows in open woods on shallow chalk and limestone soils. This is an inconspicuous and hard to find plant, when crushed the foliage has a horrible fetid odour. The smell attracts early insects. Its seeds are dispersed by snails, which eat the oily matter but discard the seeds that get caught up in the slime and carried to a new site. It was once used to make very dangerous purges and to cure boils but often killed more people than it cured. Picture taken at Felmersham, Bedfordshire - December 27th 2006. For a picture of it in late flower -see April's album.

Added:
2nd Mar 2007 by Diane Earl

Subjects:
Biology, Science

Key Stages:
Foundation, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

Keywords:
plant flower wildlife

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