Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore)

Scientific Name

Helleborus foetidus L.

Common Names

Stinking Hellebore, Dungwort, Setterwort, Bear's Foot


Helleborus foetidus subsp. foetidus

Scientific Classification

Family: Ranunculaceae
Subfamily: Ranunculoideae
Tribe: Helleboreae
Genus: Helleborus


Color: Yellowish-green
Bloom Time: Spring


Helleborus foetidus is an evergreen perennial with a thick, succulent stem and glossy leaves. It grows up to 32 inches (80 cm) tall. The drooping, cup-shaped flowers appear in spring and are yellowish-green, often with a purple edge to the five petal-like sepals on strongly upright stems. The flowers contain numerous stamens as well as up to 10 nectaries. Each flower produces up to 5 (usually 3) wrinkled follicles.

Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore)
Photo via crocus.co.uk


USDA hardiness zone 5a to 9b: from −20 °F (−28.9 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

When planting from seed or division, place the Hellebore into well-draining, organic soil in filtered sun or shady location. The Hellebore plant will return for many years; make sure space will accommodate growth and has proper sunlight.

Hellebores need no more than a few hours of dappled light and grow successfully in shady areas. Plant the Hellebore under deciduous trees or scattered through a woodland garden or shaded natural area.

Soaking the soil in which the Hellebore is growing helps the Hellebore plant to look its best. Hellebore care includes the removal of older leaves when they appear damaged. Care for Hellebores should also include careful fertilization. Too much nitrogen may result in lush foliage and a shortage of blooms.

Plant Hellebore seeds in the fall. A 60-day moist chilling period is needed when planting seeds of the Hellebore plant. Planting seed in fall allows this to happen naturally in areas with cold winters. Wait three to four years for blooms on young plants grown from seed. Divide overgrown clumps in spring, after flowering, or in fall. See more at How to Grow and Care for Hellebores.


It is native to the mountainous regions of Central and Southern Europe, Greece, and Asia Minor.


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