Veratrum album, hellebore white or lice grass

Veratrum album, hellebore white or lice grass

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Chemeritsa is a perennial herb from the Melantiev family (formerly liliaceae). Seven species grow on the territory of Russia, including Lobel's hellebore, white hellebore, black hellebore.


  • Botanical description of the species
  • Cultivation in culture
  • Plant application

Botanical description of the species

The hellebore plant forms a powerful underground rhizome. In early spring, before the appearance of other greenery, tough, slightly pubescent, strongly folded, rich green leaves appear. As they grow, they acquire the shape of an oval. A fairly powerful stem up to one meter high, ends with an inflorescence - a panicle. The hellebore plant has white flowers, up to one centimeter in diameter, are greenish or white in color. Flowering time: July, August. The fruit is a capsule containing lionfish seeds.

The plant contains the dangerous alkaloid veratrine. Its highest content is in the rhizome and spring leaves. As it grows and blooms, the content of veratrin in the ground parts of the plant, flowers, decreases to scanty values. Prefers to grow in foothill areas, rises to a height of 2000 meters, as well as in light forests, near streams, swamps.

Life expectancy up to 50 years, blooms late, sometimes by 10-15 years.

Cultivation in culture

White hellebore has a decorative appearance and can be grown in gardens. Planting a plant is carried out in two ways. Seeds: they are planted in a micro greenhouse, embedded to a depth of five mm, moistened, covered with a transparent film and placed in a shady place. After sprouting, they are seated in a prepared place at a distance of at least 70 cm.

Seeds can germinate for a long time, so it is most convenient to propagate the plant in a vegetative way: plant the divided rhizome in the spring in prepared planting pits.

Despite the fact that large hellebore bushes look good as border or flower bed plants, due to the high toxicity of all parts of the plant for people and pets, it should be used with caution in the house areas as a landscape plant. The planting of hellebore white as a medicinal plant is of economic importance. Its cultivation as a medicinal plant is known as early as the 16th century.

On the territory of Russia, the CIS countries, there are several territories where white hellebore is still grown as a medicinal plant, although it has a wide range in nature, but does not form massive thickets.

Plant application

The rhizome is harvested either in early spring or autumn. Cleaned from the ground, remove the remnants of the stem and leaves. Wash thoroughly. During the first two days, they are dried in the open air, after which they are placed in special dryers. Dried raw materials retain their properties for two years.

  • medicine
  • veterinary medicine
  • homeopathy
  • agronomy

In medicine, it is used only as an external agent. In modern official medicine, the drug hellebore water is used. It is prepared from tincture of hellebore white. The official registered name is hellebore water, an antiparasitic agent for external use.

It is widely used to treat head lice in humans. In case of head lice, it is abundantly moistened with hair and scalp. Leave for 15-20 minutes and wash off. The treatment is repeated after 6-7 days. Powder from the ground rhizome can be used to sprinkle linen and clothes when infected with body lice.

You can also wipe the skin affected by some types of lichen, for example, pityriasis versicolor water. Compresses can be made from it to treat joint pain.

From concentrated water tincture and petroleum jelly at home, you can make an ointment for scabies.

In veterinary medicine, from the powder of hellebore roots, baths are made for agricultural animals when they are affected by skin parasites, especially various types of lice. A small amount is added to cattle feed to enhance the ruminant process. Sprinkle the powder on the wounds of the animals.

In homeopathy, it is taken only as directed by a doctor in microscopic doses, with:

  • migraine
  • asthma
  • depression
  • convulsions
  • digestive disorders

In agronomy, it is used as an organic agent in the fight against pests of agricultural plants: cabbage and beet aphids, rape sawer, cabbage moth. To do this, you can use an infusion from the roots or a decoction from all parts of the plant, which are sprayed on the affected areas.

It must be remembered that this is a highly poisonous plant and, at the slightest sign of poisoning, contact medical institutions. White hellebore is more of a medicinal than an ornamental plant, and in contact with it, precautions must be taken to avoid poisoning.

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