Veratrum viride Aiton - False Hellebore


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Veratrum viride - (image 1 of 5)



Family: Liliaceae


Swamps and wet woods.




Quebec and New England west to OH, south to NC, TN, and possibly GA in mountains. Also occurs in the west from AK to OR.


Robust perennial from a stout rhizome, to 2 m. Leaves large, sessile, sometimes clasping, plicate (ribbed), oval to elliptic, twice as long as wide. Flowers hairy, polygamous, in a terminal panicle; tepals 6, yellow-green, ciliate, oblong to lanceolate and narrowed at the base; stamens 6, with the filaments free from the perianth; ovary superior, 3-lobed. Fruit an ovoid capsule; seeds large, flat.


Flowers June to July

Wetland indicator: Facultative Wetland +

This plant is poisonous, especially the root. It contains several steroidal alkaloids that may cause severe slowing of heart rate and breathing, paralysis, and a number of other painful and debilitating symptoms. Also called Indian Poke.


Foster, S. and R.A. Caras. 1994. A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants: North America North of Mexico.

Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, NY. 244 pp.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (

National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.




 Michael Hough 2009