Green Hellebore

(Helleborus viridis) Just as poisonous as the other hellebores, and that makes John Josselyn's report in 1638 interesting. He said that the root was used by young Indian braves in an ordeal to choose the chief -"he whose stomach withstood its action the longest was decided to be the strongest of the party, and entitled to command the rest" (Weiner).

Gerard reported that it "... is thought to destroy and kill lice, and not onely lice but sheepe and other cattell ..." But not quails, though, for there was an ancient belief that quails grew fat on poisonous plants, particularly hellebore, apparently springing from Aristotle, de Plautis, v - "henbane and hellebore are harmful to men, but food for quails". Lucretius, de Natura Rerum, also says "hellebore is a violent poison to us, but it fattens goats and quails" (see Robin. 1932). Beware of eating quails, then - it would be liable to give you epilepsy! (Hare).

Like Stinking Hellebore, this was used for expelling worms in children (Grigson. 1955), and it is equally dangerous. But the dried rhizome and roots were used, perfectly seriously, to slow the heart's action and to soothe the nerves. It was official in America, where it very rapidly naturalized, up to 1960, and was also used to lower blood pressure (Weiner).

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