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With a scientific name of Helleborus foetidus and common names of Stinking hellebore, Foetid hellebore and Stinkwort, you might well assume that this wildflower has a bad smell. Well, I didn’t smell a thing when I took a close look at it and I’ve since read that you need to crush the leaves to release a smell described as ‘beefy’. However, I’m actually very glad I didn’t crush the leaves, or even touch the plant, because every part of this native wildflower is poisonous. Though it was used in times gone by as a remedy for intestinal worms, it did, on occasion, kill the patient as well as the worms! At the very least, if ingested, it will cause vomiting and nausea, delirium and diarrhoea, and some of its poisons can also be absorbed through the skin, so best look but don’t touch.

160315 Stinking Hellebore Helleborus foetidus (1)

In the wild, the Stinking hellebore grows in scrub and woodlands (which is where I found it) but, perhaps surprisingly, people do grow it in their gardens. Though it has a very pretty flower, I think its hazardous properties would be enough to put me off.

160315 Stinking Hellebore Helleborus foetidus (2)

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