Helleborus foetidus - Stinking Hellebore

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Ranunculales - Family: Ranunculaceae

Helleborus foetidus - Stinking hellebore


This is a large and very attractive evergreen perennial which bears clusters of pale green flowers, often edged with purple. The attractive cup-shaped flowers, which have five green setals, are distinguished by their drooping habit and a somewhat unpleasant smell, however, much more significantly, they and every other part of this plant are poisonous - potentially deadly so if eaten in mistake for edible herbs.

Closeup of Stinking Hellebore

Blooming times

Stinking Hellebore flowers early in the year, usually during February and March.


Found in hedgerows and woodlands mainly on lime, Stinking Hellebore favours shady posotions.


Although mostly confined to the southern parts of Britain and Ireland, Stinking Hellebore can be found throughout most of mainland Europe as far south as the Mediterranean.

Closeup of Stinking Hellebore


Despite its very pretty flowers, the plant is named after its strong and unpleasant smell, not only in its common name but also in the specific epithet foetidus, which comes from Latin and means stinking.

The specimens shown here were found in mid Wales in early March.

Sue Parker's latest ebook is a revised and enlarged edition of Wild Orchids in The Burren. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's new ebook is a comprehensive and fully revised edition of her acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of Wales. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's 5-star acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of the Algarve is now available as an ebook. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Wildflowers in the Algarve, an introductory guide, by Sue Parker

Sue Parker's revised and enlarged ebook second edition of the acclaimed Wildflowers in the Algarve - an introductory guide is now available.. Full details here...

Buy it for just £3.95 on Amazon...

Please Help Us: If you have found this information interesting and useful, please consider helping to keep First Nature online by making a small donation towards the web hosting and internet costs.

Any donations over and above the essential running costs will help support the conservation work of Plantlife, the Rivers Trust and charitable botanic gardens - as do author royalties and publisher proceeds from books by Pat and Sue.

© 1995 - 2024 First Nature: a not-for-profit volunteer-run resource

Please help to keep this free resource online...

Terms of use - Privacy policy - Disable cookies - Links policy