Veratrum album (white hellebore, white false hellebore, common white hellebore).
Related species: V. lobelianum, V. nigrum (black false hellebore), V.
cahfornicum. A member of the plant family LILIACEAE. Large herbaceons plant
found growing in mountainous areas where it favours damp mountain meadows. Perennial
which grows well in woodland gardens and moist shady areas. Grows up from a short,
stout rhizome with a large number of roots. Leaves are broadly oval, pleated, prominently
veined and cover the stem up to the flowers, which are grouped in bunches at the
tips. The fruit is a brown trifollicular capsule containing small, flat, winged seeds.
Ingestion of the fresh plant (especially by juveniles), of contaminated hay (animals
of all ages), or of the seeds poultry, dogs).
All parts of the plant are toxic and contain alkaloids, the greatest concentration
of which is in the rhizomes and roots (1-1.6%). The most toxic are gemerine, germitrine,
protoveratrine A and B, which are strong irritants and cardiorespiratory depressants.
Drying does not reduce the toxicity. Toxicity is maximal during flowering of the
plant (spring - early summer).
Oral toxic doses: