Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Flower of the day: Noel Gülü - Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger, commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore, is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. It is poisonous.
Although the flowers resemble wild roses (and despite its common name), Christmas rose does not belong to the rose family (Rosaceae).

Helleborus niger is an evergreen plant with dark, leathery, pedate leaves carried on stems to 9–12 in (23–30 cm) tall. The large, flat flowers, borne on short stems from midwinter to early spring, are white, or occasionally pink.
There are two subspecies: H. niger subsp. niger and H. niger subsp. macranthus, with larger flowers (to 3.75 in/9 cm across). In the wild, H. niger subsp. niger is generally found in mountainous areas, over a range from Switzerland, southern Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and northern Italy. Helleborus niger subsp. macranthus is found only in northern Italy and possibly adjoining parts of Slovenia.

The plant is a traditional cottage garden favourite, because it flowers in the depths of winter; large-flowered cultivars are available, as are pink-flowered and double-flowered selections. It has been awarded an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) H4 (hardy throughout the British Isles) by the Royal Horticultural Society, as has one of its hybrids (see below).
It can be difficult to grow well; acid soil is unsuitable, as are poor, dry conditions and full sun. Moist, humus-rich, alkaline soil in dappled shade is preferable. Leaf-mould can be dug in to improve heavy clay or light, sandy soils; lime can be added to 'sweeten' acid soils.

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