Specification & Spread

Rhizomes with white hellebore roots — rhizomata cum radicibus veratri lobeliani
White hellebore — veratrum lobelianum bernh. Сем.
Melanthiaceae family — melanthiaceae
Other names: hellebore.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant 70-170 cm tall, with a thick short vertical rhizome and numerous long cord-like adventitious roots.
The stem is erect, juicy, thick; the stem base is close in structure to corm.
The leaves are alternate, naked, broadly elliptic, entire, with arcuate venation, with long tubular sheaths. The leaf blades are longitudinally-folded, corrugated.
The flowers are almost sessile, regular, with a simple, to the base, six-part greenish perianth, gathered in a long thick apical panicle 20-60 cm long. The perianth segments are stupid, have 6 stamens, the ovary is upper. The fruit is a three-capsule capsule with numerous seeds.
The whole plant is very poisonous!

It blooms from June to early August, the fruits ripen in August – September.

Spreading. Eurasian species. It grows in the forest and forest-steppe zones of the European part of Russia, in the mountains of the Caucasus, Eastern Kazakhstan and northeastern part of Kyrgyzstan. It is widely spread in Western Siberia, found in South-Eastern Siberia, including Transbaikalia.

Habitat. It is mainly grows on wet flood, forest, subalpine and alpine meadows, near marshes, along river banks, in thickets of bushes, on forest glades and forest edges. The stocks of the raw materials are significant.


All parts of the plant contain steroid alkaloids.
The roots accumulate up to 2.4% of the amount of alkaloids:

  • in rhizomes – up to 1.3%.

From the roots and rhizomes there are isolated:

  • protoveratrins A and B,
  • veratroilzigadenine,
  • yervin and others.

Sugars and flavonoids are also found.
Quantitation determination

The quantitative determination of the amount of alkaloids in terms of proveratrin is carried out by the method of non-aqueous titration after extraction from chloroform from the raw material.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The harvesting is done in autumn or early spring. The rhizomes with roots are dug, cut the stems, cleaned from the ground, washed with running water, placing the raw material in the basket. The large rhizomes are cut longitudinally in two. The pickers are needed to be warned about the poisonous properties of hellebore.

Security measures. At the harvesting area, the young plants and a part of well-developed individuals are left for seeding. The repeated harvesting at the same place should be carried out only after 4-5 years.

Drying. The raw materials should be dried immediately after harvesting and cleaning. The artificial drying at a temperature of 60 ºС is recommended. The drying in the sun is acceptable.
When drying, packaging and grinding of the raw materials should follow all measures to protect the eyes and respiratory tract. Hellebore dust causes very strong irritation of the mucous membranes of the eyes and nasopharynx (!).

Storage. In a dry, well-ventilated area, with caution.

Whole raw materials

Solid or cut along the rhizome with roots and individual roots.
The rhizomes are single-headed or multi-headed, 2-8 cm long, 1.5-3 cm in diameter. The outside is grey or dark brown in color, greyish-white in the fracture.
The roots are cord-shaped, longitudinally wrinkled, up to 20 cm long, up to 0.4 cm thick. Outside it is straw is yellow or yellowish brown in colour, grayish-white in fracture.
The smell is absent, the taste is not determined due to the toxicity of raw materials(!).

Milled raw materials

The pieces of roots and rhizomes of various shapes, passing through a sieve with 7 mm diameter holes.
The colour is straw yellow or yellowish-brown.
The smell is absent, the taste is not determined(!).


In Western Ukraine and the Carpathians grows a close species as white hellebore (Veratrum album L.), distinguished by narrower leaves, horizontally branched inflorescence and greenish-white flowers on prominent peduncles.

Black hellebore (Veratrum nigrum L.) is distinguished by a dark purple perianth.
Daurian hellebore (Veratrum dahuricum (Loes.) Turcz.) has densely pubescent leaves below.

Properties and application

The raw materials are used for

  • receiving chomeric water and
  • hellebore tinctures used in human and veterinary medicine as
  • external antiparasitic agents.

Currently, the application of hellebore preparations in medicine is limited due to their high toxicity.