Veratrum viride Aiton
Veratrum viride Aiton ssp. eschscholtzii (A. Gray) Á. Löve & D. Löve
Veratrum eschscholtzianum (Schult. & Schult. f.) Rydb. ex A. Heller
Veratrum eschscholtzii A. Gray
Veratrum eschscholtzii A. Gray var. incriminatum B. Boivin
Veratrum viride Aiton var. eschscholtzii (A. Gray) Breitung
Veratrum viride Aiton ssp. eschscholtzii (A. Gray) A. Löve & D. Löve
False hellebore, green false hellebore, Indian poke, American hellebore
False hellebore is native to the eastern and western areas of the US and Canada. It has a penchant for moist meadows and open forests. A name as colorful as false hellebore deserves a little research. Turns out false hellebore is so named because it looks like real hellebore, which in turn is a member of the Helleborus species. And Helleborus derives from the Greek name for H. orientalis, ἑλλέβορος (helléboros), from elein ”to injure,” and βορά (borá), ”food.” (In botany, “false” means “easily confused with a similar, previously named plant.”)
Identification: This is a rather handsome looking species, making a rather prominent impression in wooded habitats. Plants are 28-79" (70-200 cm) in height, with large leaves 4-14" (10-35 cm) × 1¾-8" (5-20 cm) spirally arranged around a straight stem. Leaves are elliptic to broadly lanceolate, with conspicuous parallel ribs and hairy undersides. Flowers are arranged in a conical shape atop the plant, 12-28" (30-70 cm) tall; individual flowers are star-shaped, hairy, ⅛-⅜" (5-12 mm) long, and green, with six green or yellow green tepals. It flowers from July to August. Fruits are a small capsule.
Edibility: Poisonous. Any part of this plant, especially the roots, induces nausea and vomiting, followed by drops in respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, often leading to death. It is poisonous to animals as well as people. If eaten, the result is burning of the mouth and throat, salivation, headache, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, sweating, and convulsions.
Medical: In the 1950s and 60s, standardized preparations derived from false hellebore were used to bring overly fast heart rates and high blood pressure down. The practice was later discontinued.
Veratrum viride on Wikipedia
Veratrum viride on the New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site
Veratrum viride on plants.ces.ncsu.edu
Veratrum viride on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Veratrum viride on newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu
Veratrum viride description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 21 Aug 2020.