Open the Advanced Search

Green Hellebore

Helleborus viridis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, meadows, riversides, rocky places, scrub, woodland.

Green, 5 petals
Green Hellebore produces distinctive cup-shaped flowers that grace woodlands in the UK. The blooms, appearing from late winter to early spring, boast green sepals resembling petals, often with a hint of yellow at the center. These elegant flowers, perched on sturdy stems, form clusters amid the evergreen foliage, creating a subtle yet enchanting display in the woodland understory. The sepals persist even as the plant matures, adding to its allure throughout the seasons. The flowers, though lacking in traditional petals, contribute to the unique and captivating aesthetic of this early-blooming perennial in the British countryside.
Green Hellebore develops distinctive fruit in the form of seed capsules. As the flowers fade in late spring, these capsules, resembling small green pods, emerge. Over time, the capsules mature and gradually turn brown. Each capsule contains numerous small seeds. As the growing season progresses, these capsules release the seeds, contributing to the plant's reproduction. The fruit of Green Hellebore adds to the overall interest of the plant, transitioning from the initial flowering stage to the later seed dispersal, ensuring its role in the ecological cycle of the UK woodlands where it thrives.
Green Hellebore features evergreen leaves that bring year-round interest to the woodlands of the UK. The leaves are deeply lobed and have a glossy texture, giving them a rich, dark green appearance. The leaflets are arranged in a palmate fashion, radiating from a central point, and they are typically toothed along the edges. The robust foliage forms a dense and attractive ground cover in the understory of woodlands, providing a lush backdrop for the plant's elegant flowers. These leaves contribute to the plant's overall resilience, maintaining their verdant hue even during the winter months, making Green Hellebore a visually appealing and enduring presence in British woodland landscapes.
Green Hellebore is generally not known for having a noticeable fragrance. Unlike some other flowers that rely on scent to attract pollinators, Green Hellebore tends to focus on visual appeal to entice early-season pollinators. While the plant is admired for its unique and elegant flowers, the blooms typically do not emit a strong or distinctive fragrance. Therefore, the allure of Green Hellebore lies more in its visual charm and ecological role in woodlands rather than any notable scent.
Other Names:
Bastard Hellebore, Bear's Foot, Boar's Foot, Green-flowered Hellebore.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Helleborus viridis, commonly known as "Green Hellebore" or "Green-flowered Hellebore" is a species of herbaceous perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It typically grows to be about 30-60 centimeters tall, with large, palmate leaves that can reach up to 30 centimeters in diameter. It has small, greenish-white or yellow-green flowers that bloom in the late winter or early spring, before the leaves appear. The flowers are usually small and held in clusters on tall stalks.

Like other species of Hellebore, Helleborus viridis prefers well-drained soils and partial shade, it is tolerant of cold temperatures and hardy, it can tolerate temperatures down to -20°C. It is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping. It is also used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various diseases such as fever, cold, and headache. The plant is toxic and should be handled with care.


Green hellebore, also known as Helleborus viridis, is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in woodlands, meadows, and rocky areas.

The plant grows up to 60 cm tall and has dark green, leathery leaves that are arranged in a rosette pattern. The flowers are bowl-shaped, pale green, and appear in late winter or early spring. They are followed by green seed pods that turn brown as they mature.

Green hellebore is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and partial shade. It is also tolerant of drought, making it a good choice for gardeners in areas with low rainfall.

One of the unique features of green hellebore is that it is toxic to humans and animals if ingested. All parts of the plant contain toxic compounds, including glycosides and alkaloids, that can cause nausea, vomiting, and other digestive symptoms. However, the plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, gout, and respiratory infections.

Green hellebore is also prized for its ornamental value. It is a popular choice for shady borders, woodland gardens, and as a cut flower. It can be grown from seed or propagated by division in the fall or early spring.

To care for green hellebore, it is important to provide it with adequate moisture during the growing season and to fertilize it with a balanced fertilizer in the spring. It is also recommended to remove dead foliage and flowers to promote new growth.

Green hellebore has a rich history in folklore and mythology. It has been associated with magic, protection, and healing in many cultures. In Greek mythology, it was believed to be a symbol of resurrection and was associated with the goddess Persephone. The plant was also used in medieval times to ward off evil spirits and protect against witchcraft.

In addition to its medicinal properties, green hellebore has also been used in dyes and as a natural insecticide. The plant contains compounds that repel insects, making it a useful addition to a garden as a natural pest control.

Green hellebore is also an important plant for wildlife. It provides food and habitat for a variety of insects, including butterflies and moths. The plant is also an important source of nectar for early spring pollinators, such as bees and flies.

Despite its toxicity, green hellebore is an important plant for conservation. It is classified as a priority species in some areas of Europe and is protected by law. Habitat loss and over-collection have threatened populations of green hellebore in some areas, making it important to protect and conserve this unique plant species.

Green hellebore is often grown for its ornamental value, and there are many cultivars available that offer a range of flower colors and patterns. Some cultivars have double or semi-double flowers, while others have spotted or variegated foliage. Green hellebore can be grown as a specimen plant or as part of a mixed border, and it pairs well with other shade-loving plants like ferns, hostas, and pulmonarias.

Green hellebore can also be used in cut flower arrangements, but it is important to handle it with care as the sap can cause skin irritation. The plant is best cut when the flowers are just beginning to open and the stem should be plunged immediately into water to prolong the vase life.

In terms of propagation, green hellebore can be grown from seed, but it can take several years for the plants to mature and bloom. Division is a faster method of propagation, and it is best done in the fall or early spring when the plants are dormant.

Green hellebore is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care once established. Here are some tips for growing green hellebore:

  1. Soil: Green hellebore prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It is important to avoid soil that is too wet or too dry, as this can lead to root rot or dehydration.

  2. Light: Green hellebore prefers partial shade to full shade. It can tolerate some direct sunlight in the morning or late afternoon, but too much sun can cause the leaves to scorch.

  3. Water: Green hellebore needs regular watering during the growing season, but it can tolerate some drought. It is important to avoid over-watering, as this can lead to root rot.

  4. Fertilizer: Green hellebore does not require a lot of fertilizer, but it can benefit from a balanced fertilizer in the spring. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates.

  5. Pruning: Dead foliage and flowers should be removed to promote new growth. It is important to wear gloves when handling green hellebore, as the sap can cause skin irritation.

  6. Propagation: Green hellebore can be propagated by division in the fall or early spring. The plant can also be grown from seed, but it can take several years for the plants to mature and bloom.

  7. Pests and Diseases: Green hellebore is generally resistant to pests and diseases, but it can be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew. Regular monitoring and treatment can help prevent these issues.

In summary, green hellebore is a beautiful and unique plant that offers ornamental and ecological value. With proper care and attention, it can be a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

30 Facts About Green Hellebore

  1. Historical Folklore: Green Hellebore (Helleborus viridis) has a rich history in European folklore, often associated with magic and protection against evil spirits.

  2. Early Bloomer: This perennial plant is known for its early spring blooms, bringing a splash of color to woodlands when many other plants are still dormant.

  3. Evergreen Charm: Green Hellebore retains its deep green foliage throughout the year, adding a touch of vibrancy even in the winter months.

  4. Toxic Beauty: Despite its enchanting appearance, all parts of the Green Hellebore are toxic, containing compounds that can cause gastrointestinal distress if ingested.

  5. Woodland Habitat: It thrives in woodland environments, preferring the dappled shade of deciduous trees.

  6. Unusual Petal-Like Structures: The green sepals of Green Hellebore resemble petals, giving the illusion of a flower with no distinct petals.

  7. Distinctive Flower Shape: The cup-shaped flowers of Green Hellebore have a unique charm, with a central cluster of nectaries that attract early-season pollinators.

  8. Low Maintenance: Once established, Green Hellebore is relatively low-maintenance, making it a resilient addition to shaded gardens.

  9. Long-Lived Perennial: Green Hellebore has a long life span, with some plants living for decades, creating a lasting presence in their woodland habitats.

  10. Adaptability: This plant is adaptable to various soil types, including clay and loamy soils, making it versatile in different woodland settings.

  11. Symbol of Resilience: Surviving in challenging conditions, Green Hellebore symbolizes resilience and endurance in the face of adversity.

  12. Medicinal Uses: In traditional medicine, extracts from Helleborus species were used cautiously for their potential medicinal properties, although the toxicity limits their contemporary use.

  13. Winter Interest: The evergreen nature of Green Hellebore provides year-round interest in gardens, especially during the winter months when other plants may be dormant.

  14. Natural Ground Cover: With its spreading habit, Green Hellebore can function as a natural ground cover, creating a lush carpet in shaded areas.

  15. Cultural Significance: It holds cultural significance in various regions, often featured in art and literature as a symbol of mystery and enchantment.

  16. Hybrid Varieties: There are several hybrid varieties of Helleborus, leading to a range of colors and forms within the Helleborus genus.

  17. Early Pollinator Attraction: The early flowering period of Green Hellebore makes it an essential nectar source for emerging pollinators, such as bees and early butterflies.

  18. Drought Tolerance: Once established, Green Hellebore exhibits a degree of drought tolerance, adapting to periods of water scarcity.

  19. Seeds for Propagation: Green Hellebore produces seeds that can be collected for propagation, allowing for the expansion of its presence in suitable habitats.

  20. Landscape Diversity: Its ability to thrive in a variety of woodland settings contributes to the diversity and resilience of forest ecosystems.

  21. Winter Hardy: Green Hellebore is winter-hardy, enduring cold temperatures and even light snowfall without significant damage.

  22. Aphid Resistance: This plant is relatively resistant to aphids, contributing to its overall hardiness in garden settings.

  23. Naturalizing Effect: When planted in groups, Green Hellebore can have a naturalizing effect, creating a visually striking display in shaded areas.

  24. Symbolic Meanings: In some cultures, Green Hellebore is associated with rebirth and renewal, aligning with its early spring flowering.

  25. Aesthetic Value: Beyond its ecological roles, Green Hellebore is valued for its aesthetic contributions, enhancing the visual appeal of woodland landscapes.

  26. Rhizomatous Growth: The plant spreads through rhizomatous growth, forming colonies over time and creating a cohesive appearance in its natural habitat.

  27. Deer Resistance: Green Hellebore is often resistant to deer browsing, making it a suitable choice for landscapes where deer may be present.

  28. Shelter for Wildlife: The dense foliage of Green Hellebore provides shelter for small wildlife, offering a microhabitat within the forest floor.

  29. Species Diversity: The Helleborus genus includes several species, each with its unique characteristics, contributing to the overall diversity of the plant family.

  30. Photoperiod Sensitivity: Green Hellebore's flowering is influenced by photoperiod, with longer days triggering the emergence of its distinctive blooms in early spring.


Green Hellebore filmed at Howe Ridding Wood in Cumbria on the 30th April 2023.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map