This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Flowers regular. Sepals usually 5, large and yellow, petaloid, no real petals. Stamens numerous. Carpels 5-10 compressed, each with several seeds.
A very small genus, inhabiting the temperate and cold regions of both northern and southern hemispheres.
Stems about a foot long, often rooting at the lower nodes. Leaves mostly radical, on long stalks, orbicular or kidney-shaped with cordate base and crenate margin, very glossy. Flowers large and handsome, bright yellow.
Marshy places, by streams, and damp mountain slopes from the plains up to 8000 feet, and very abundant in the lower Alps from 3000 to 5000 feet. In Norway to 4300 feet, or above the birch limit. March to July.
Europe, Temperate Asia, N. America (British).
Perennial herbs with divided leaves and yellow or orange flowers. Sepals 5 to 15, large and petaloid. Real petals small, linear, and flat. Stamens numerous. Carpels several, each with several seeds.
There are a few species from N. Asia and N. America, besides the European species.
Stem erect, 1 1/2-2 1/2 feet, simple and 1-flowered or branched and 2-3 flowered, glabrous like the whole plant. Leaves palmately 5-cleft, lower ones stalked, upper leaves sessile; divisions rhom-boidal, 3-cleft, unequally cut. Sepals yellow, almost closed into a ball. Follicles glabrous, linear, obliquely wrinkled, turning black when ripe, seeds black.
Damp Alpine and sub-alpine meadows and mountain declivities, often in great masses, sometimes extending to 8000 feet in altitude. In Great Britain it is almost confined to sub-alpine districts in the north and west; but it actually descends, or did fifteen years ago, the valley of the Taff to within a mile or two of the town of Cardiff. May to July.
Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps, Black Forest, Vosges, Jura, Auvergne, Cevennes; Corbieres and Pyrenees; Europe, especially northern and central, as far as the Caucasus.
It grows freely in almost any soil, and thrives in a stiff loam with a moist subsoil. Globe-flowers rarely vegetate until the spring following the year in which the seeds are sown, but they do not attain full development until about the fourth year.
Perennial herbs with palmately or pedately divided leaves. Sepals 5, large, often greenish, remaining till the fruit is nearly ripe. Real petals 8-10, very small, tubular. Stamens numerous. Carpels several, large, with several seeds.
Rootstock thick, oblique, knobbed, with black fibres. Stem erect, simple, glabrous like the whole plant, 3-6 inches high, usually 1, rarely 2-flowered, leafless, having 2 or 3 elliptical or ovate bracts in the upper part. Leaves radical, large, coriaceous, stalked, pedate, 7-9 cleft; divisions undivided or 2-3 cleft, linear-lanceolate or wedge-shaped, acute, toothed. Flowers nodding, handsome, 2-3 inches in diameter, white or rose-tinted, ultimately green. Petals and stamens yellow. Sepals petaloid, elliptical. Follicle (capsule) elongate, obliquely veined, with a long beak.
The leaves spring up after the flowers, but remain through the following winter. The rootstock contains a narcotic poison of a very fatal character. It is officinal.
Calcareous sub-alpine woods and rocky, wooded slopes, as high as the zone of Pinus montanus. January to April.
In Switzerland only in Canton Tessin. It is frequent in woods above Lago Lugano Carpathians and Central Europe from Tessin to Roumania.
If deep cultivation is given on planting, Helleborus niger seems indifferent to subsequent treatment, provided it is not much disturbed. Lifting and dividing should be done in July, when the plant is strongest. Though garden specimens are often protected by a hand frame before and during flowering, the Christmas Rose sometimes suffers when removed from under glass, for though very hardy the protection of a glass tends to bring on the young foliage before its time.