Hellebores: The species

The genus Helleborus belongs to the Ranunculaceae, as our buttercup or the columbine. About 20 actual species exist within the genus Helleborus. By the process of hybridization an unimaginable number of hybrids have developed. Many hybrids have H. orientalis and/or H. torquatus as one of their ancestors. These are officially designated by the name Helleborus x hybridus.

The species of Hellebores can be divided into two groups:

  1. The group with true stems, to which the leaves are attached.
  2. The group without true stems.

Group 1 contains:

Helleborus argutifolius
                          Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius – Corsican Hellebores
Helleborus foetidus – stinking Hellebores
Helleborus lividus
Helleborus vesicarius

The stem of Helleborus vesicarius is annual and can thus be removed in autumn. Do not do this with the other three: this year’s stem will flower next year. The stems that have flowered can be cut off near the soil in July. Generally, these plants do not live very long, but through seed sufficient offspring is generated.

H. lividus and H. vesicarius are not particularly strong plants. Especially in harsh winters, these are the first victims.

Group 2 contains:

Helleborus atrorubens
Helleborus croaticus
Helleborus cyclophyllus
Helleborus dumetorum
Helleborus abruzzicus
Helleborus liguricus
Helleborus boconei
Helleborus multifidus
Helleborus multifidus subsp. hercegovinus
Helleborus multifidus subsp. istriacus
Helleborus multifidus subsp. multifidus
Helleborus niger
Helleborus niger subsp. macranthus (syn. H. niger major)
Helleborus niger subsp. niger
Helleborus odorus
Helleborus odorus subsp. laxus
Helleborus odorus subsp. odorus
Helleborus orientalis (Note: most of these plants are now known as H. hybridus)

Helleborus x hybridus Bicolor
                Helleborus x hybridus Bicolor

Helleborus orientalis subsp. abchasicus (syn. H. abchasicus)                                                 Helleborus  orientalis subsp. guttatus                                                                                                   Helleborus orientalis subsp. orientalis (syn. H. caucasicus, H. kochii)                                 Helleborus purpurascens                                                                                                                           Helleborus thibetanus (syn. H. chinensis, the only one from China)                                                         Helleborus torquatusHelleborus viridis                                                                                                     Helleborus occidentalis (formerly known as: H. viridis subsp. occidentalis)

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