Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore, foetid hellebore, setterwort). Related
species: H. viridis (green hellebore), H. niger (black hellebore, Christmas
rose, winter rose, bear's foot), H. orientalis (Lenten rose). A member of the
plant family RANUNCULACEAE. Perennial herbaceous plants with numerous tubular green
flowers with purple edges. Fruit composed of many-seeded follicles; the plant has
an unpleasant odour.
Animals most affected
Cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs.
Ingestion of fresh plant material or of contaminated green fodder.
saponosides - helleborine and helleborem;
a lactone heteroside - protoanemonine.
a cardenolide, hellebrigenin;
a steroidal glycoside, hellebrin.
The entire plant is very toxic. Drying destroys the toxic principles.
Oral doses in g of fresh plant material:
10-12 (Helleborus niger)
anorexia, diarrhoea with acute rectal spasms;
tremor, convulsions, progressing to coma;
death possible within several days.
No antidote. Symptomatic care only:
adsorbents, gastrointestinal demulcents;
sedatives or tranquillizers.