This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Helleborus Niger. Black Hellebore, or Christmas Rose.
Calyx nullus. Petala 5 sive plura. Nectaria bilabiata, tubulata.
Capsulae polyspermae, erectiusculae.
HELLEBORUS niger scapo sub-bifloro subnudo, foliis pedatis. Lin. Syst. Vegetab. p. 431. Sp. Pl. p. 783.
HELLEBORUS niger flore roseo, Bauh. Pin. 186.
The true Black Hellebore, or Christmas flower. Parkins. Parad. p. 344.
As our Publication seems likely to fall into the hands of such as are totally unacquainted with Botany, or botanical writings, it must plead as an apology for our often explaining many circumstances relative to plants, which may be well known to adepts in the science.
This plant derives its first name from the black colour of its roots, its second from its early flowering, and the colour of its petals, which though generally milk-white on their first appearance, yet have frequently a tint of red in them, which increases with the age of the blossom and finally changes to green; in some species of Hellebore, particularly the viridis, the flower is green from first to last.
Black Hellebore grows wild on the Appenine and other mountains, preferring such as are rocky.
If the weather be unusually mild, it will flower in our gardens, in the open border, as early as December and January; it may indeed be considered as the herald of approaching spring.
Like most other alpine plants, it loves a pure air, a situation moderately moist, and a soil unmanured: as the beauty of its flowers is apt to be destroyed by severe frosts, it should be covered during the winter with a hand-glass, or if it be treated in the manner recommended for the round-leaved Cyclamen, it may be had to flower in still greater perfection.
It is propagated by parting its roots in autumn: neither this species nor the hyemalis thrive very near London.