Did you know that
the plant Helleborus
named also Christmas Rose by an old European legend?
The Christmas Rose is a hardy, herbaceous plant
which thrives in a sunny site with well-drained, fertile soil.
Botanically, Christmas rose is classified to belong to the plant
family Ranunculacae - the Buttercup Family, in which it fits
well having the characteristic flower and fruit morphology. The
scientific name Helleborus derives from the Greek name for H.
orientalis "helleboros"; "elein" to injure and
"bora" food. Niger refers to the black color of the
roots of the Christmas rose plant. The name Helleborus niger
was given to the plant by Carl von Linné.
The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) is one of the easier and most rewarding garden plants to
grow, Their ability to bloom in the darkest months of the year when
everything else is frozen solid make them a valuable asset to any
garden.The Christmas Rose produces flowers from late fall up until
early spring. These evergreen perennials grow 12 to 15 inches tall and
have shiny, dark green leathery leaves. Each flower stalk bears a
single 2 to 4 inch white bloom (sometimes tinged with pink).
Although these plants from southern Europe and Asia are durable and
easy to grow, a few steps must be taken to ensure that these plants
will flourish. Unfortunately, the roots of the Christmas Rose are
The knowledge of the
powerful toxicity or rather the medicinal potential of Christmas rose
goes back to the Middle Ages, when it was extensively used by
herbalists, and even to earlier times. Theophrastus and
Dioscorides (great Greek botanists) have mentioned Christmas rose in their
works. Pliny has
mentioned the use of H. niger as early as in 1400 BC. by a
soothsayer and physician Melampus, after whom the plant has sometimes
been referred to as "melampode".
According to a greek
Melampus, used this plant as a herb to cure the madness of King
Proetus' daughters and other Greek women, who lost their minds and
roamed wildly through the mountains and the desert of Tiryns, thinking
they were cows.
As a result, Melampus and his brother Bias gained a fortune (two
thirds of King Proetus' kingdom) becoming the husbands of the
princesses they had cured.
According to a
Christian legend, a young shepherdess
named Madelon was tending her sheep one cold and wintry night. As she
watched over them, a group of wise men and other shepherds passed by,
bearing gifts for the newly born Jesus. Madelon wept, because she had
no gifts to bring the Newborn King,
not even a simple flower....
An angel, upon hearing her weeping, appeared and brushed away the snow
to reveal a most beautiful white flower tipped with pink - the