Helleborus niger, commonly called ‘Christmas Rose,’ is not a rose at all, but a member of the Ranunculaceae, along with buttercups, Ranunculus, Delphinium, Colombine, Clematis, Nigella, and many others. H. niger and the dozen or so other Hellebore species are native to Europe and Asia. Although used in ancient medicine to treat maladies from paralysis to insanity, Hellebores contain various toxins that can be fatal.
Prized today as early-blooming garden flowers, Hellebores come in colors from green to white, pink, burgundy, and inky purple. Characteristically downward facing, recent breeding has created more upright varieties. Hellebores are also beautiful in floral designs from bridal bouquets to garden-inspired centerpieces. They do best in cool weather. Here are a few photos I took of hellebores growing at the Kubota Garden in Seattle.All Images Copyright 2011 Christopher Flowers LLC.