Veratrum viride

green false hellebore


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Liliopsida (monocotyledons). Subclass - Liliidae. Order - Liliales. Family - Liliaceae (lily family). Genus - Veratrum L. (false hellebore). Species - Veratrum viride Aiton (green false hellebore).

Ecology: Grows in swamps, wet woods, meadows, mountains, forest, or natural areas in moist woods, along stream banks.


Erect, perennial herb; leaves alternate, broad and strap-like, clasping at the base and with conspicuous parallel veins. 15 - 30 cm ovate leaves end in a sharp point; strongly ribbed; mostly parallel veins; clasps onto a stout, downy stem. A stout plant with large leaves clasping stem that bears a branching cluster of greenish, star-shaped, hairy flowers. The ribbed, yellow-green leaves of this wetland plant are conspicuous in spring; the plant withers away before summer. Veratrum viride is a perennial growing to 2m.

Requires a deep fertile moisture retentive humus-rich soil. Succeeds in full sun if the soil does not dry out but prefers a position in semi-shade. Dislikes dry soils, preferring to grow in a bog garden. Grows best in a cool woodland garden or a north facing border. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. Plants are long-lived and can be left in the same position for years without attention.

The stem is roundish, solid, striated throughout the greater part of its length, and closely invested with the sheathing bases of leaves. The lower leaves are large. The upper leaves are gradually narrower.


All parts of the plant are highly poisonous toxins.

Symptons: Burning of mouth and throat, salivation, headache, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, sweating, convulsions.


Numerous small, downy, yellow-green flowers on branching stem.

Flowers greenish yellow, in a large terminal cluster; fruit a capsule.

Season: summer.

Life cycle: perennial.

Species Distribution


USDA Plant Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (, 4 February 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds.  1993+.  Flora of North America North of Mexico.  19+ vols.  New York and Oxford.

Intermountain Herbarium
Consortium of Intermountain Herbaria. 2016. http// Accessed on February 04.

Burke Museum Plant Image Collection
The plant image collection at the Burke Museum, University of Washington.

Jepson Manual
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. $131.95, hardcover; 1600 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0520253124.