LENTEN-ROSE

Helleborus orientalis

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

month8feb month8mar month8march month8apr month8april

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8red flower8beetroot
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZmedium

9th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Lowish growing, Less than a foot tall. Satin leaves; palmate in sevens's, five's or three's.


6th April 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Birds-eye view of new growth a month later.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Flowers always drooping downwards facing the ground. Stems round, with short hairs.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have five 'petals' (actually sepals) of a light-coloured beetroot shade of red. Leaves verdant green, with more teeth towards the far periphery.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The sepals may have one or two teeth or discontinuities.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Sepals overlap forming a pentagonal star when viewed by transmitted light. Inner side of sepals covered in darker beetroot-red coloured spots or specks. Longitudinal striations visible.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Numerous long greenish-yellow stamens end in cream-coloured anthers with cream-coloured pollen.


6th April 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
A month later and the inner structure of the flower has metamorphed.


6th April 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The outer part to has grown an encircling ring of 'teeth' surrounding the five green in-growing 'bananas' which were previously part of the five stamens.


9th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
New leaves reddish brown reminiscent of crabs claws. Fresh leaves verdant green, with pointed tip and numerous forward-pointing teeth especially nearer the tip.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Lower leaves palmate in 7's or 5's and rounded shaped a little like shoe-horns rather than pointed at the tip.


7th March 2010, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Leaves have a network of veins more evident in transmitted light.


Hybridises with (or is the hybrid of): some other Hellebores.

No relation to: Rose

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : A large 5-petalled beetroot-coloured flower drooping earthwards

No relation to : Roses. Despite the name of a few Hellebores including Christmas-Rose, they do not belong to the Rosaceae family. However, they do have large rose-like flowers, and what look like five petals (which are actually sepals).

Like most members of the Buttercup Family to which it belongs, it contains Ranunculin which, upon hydrolysis outside the plant cell, is converted to Protoanemonin which is poisonous. Lenten-rose is toxic if eaten in large quantities.

This plant, like Helleborus Foetidus, Helleborus Lividus, Helleborus Vesicarius, Helleborus Dumetorium and Helleborus Purpurescens (only some of which are native to the U.K.) contains bufadienolides (the main one being Hellebrin, aka Helleborin) saponins, and alkaloids such as Celliamine and Sprintilline. These latter two alkaloids have similar toxicity properties to Aconitine and Veratrine but so far their structure is unknown.

The maroon flowers as shown above are horticultural hybrids, where many shades of Hellebore can be produced. The real colour of the pure Helleborus orientalis is pale green/cream.

HELLEBRIN & ITS AGLYCONE


Hellebrin is a poisonous triterpene saponin and a cardiac glycoside that is contained in many plants of Genus Hellebore but certainly not all. It is Hellebrigenin 3-O-glucosylrhamnoside.


Hellebrigenine is Hellebrin without the glucoside chain, and is a bufadienolide, in particular 3,6,14-trihydroxy-19-oxobufa-20,22-dienolide. As such it is extremely toxic, being a heart poison.


  Helleborus orientalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ranunculaceae  

Distribution
 family8Buttercup family8Ranunculaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Helleborus
Helleborus
(Hellebores)

LENTEN-ROSE

Helleborus orientalis

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

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