English name: Christmas Rose
Christmas rose, (Helleborus niger), also called winter rose or black hellebore, small poisonous perennial herb of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), known for its tendency to bloom from late autumn to early spring, often in the snow. It has evergreen compound leaves, of seven or more leaflets arranged like the fingers on a hand, that arise directly on leafstalks from the crown of the plant. The striking flowers, of five coloured sepals, are 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) across, are whitish to pinkish green, and appear during the winter, often at Christmas, in mild climates and in late spring in colder areas. Improved varieties include “Altifolius,” somewhat taller, and “Potter’s Wheel,” with broader sepals. The Christmas rose flourishes in moist soil and partial shade in mild climates or in protected locations in colder areas and is sometimes forced to bloom in the greenhouse.
The closely related Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), blooming later, with cream to purplish flowers in clusters of two to six, is popular in Europe.