Veratrum nigrum
Common Name: black false hellebore 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Melanthiaceae
Native Range: Europe, Asia
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Purple-black
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Butterflies


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 6-8 where it is best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates full sun as long as soils are kept consistently moist. Avoid dry soils. Shelter from drying winds. May be propagated by division. Plants grow very slowly and may take three years to first produce flowers when grown from seed. All parts of this plant including the thick rhizomes are poisonous if ingested.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Veratrum nigrum, commonly known as black false hellebore, is a somewhat rare herbaceous rhizomatous perennial that typically grows to 4-6’ tall and to 2-3’ wide. It is native from central/southern Europe to central Asia and China. Large, parallel-veined, deeply pleated, elliptic leaves (to 12” long) are spirally arranged around stout erect stems which are topped in summer by narrow, pubescent, branched panicles (18-24” long) of small, 6-tepaled, star-shaped, dark purple to purple black flowers (each to 3/8” across).

All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested by humans.

The genus name Veratrum comes from the Latin and means "truly black", in reference to the color of the rhizomes of this species.

Specific epithet comes from Latin meaning black in reference to the color of the plant rhizomes.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs and snails.


Borders. Woodland gardens. Cottage gardens.