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Veratrum album

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Title: Veratrum album  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cyclops, Samuel Hahnemann, Resveratrol, Vitosha, Hellebore, Papa Smurf, False helleborine, White Hellebore, List of plants by common name, Veratridine
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Veratrum album

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Veratrum
Species: V. album
Binomial name
Veratrum album

Veratrum album, commonly known as false helleborine, white hellebore, European white hellebore, white veratrum; syn. Veratrum lobelianum Bernh.[1]), is a poisonous medicinal plant[2][3] of the Liliaceae (lily family) or Melanthiaceae. It is native to Europe.

Plant description

The plant is a perennial herb with a stout vertical rhizome covered with remnants of old leaf sheaths. The stout, simple stems are 50 to 175 cm tall. They have been mistaken for yellow gentian, Gentiana lutea, which is used in beverages, resulting in poisoning.[4][5][6]

Resveratrol has been isolated from the plant.[7][8]


The root is very poisonous, with a paralyzing effect on the nervous system.[1] In two cases of fatal poisoning from eating the seeds, the toxins veratridine and cevadine were present in the blood. In 1983 sneezing powders produced from the herb in West Germany were reported to have caused severe intoxications in Scandinavia.[9]


In antiquity, an effective emetic based on white hellebore and a bitter oval seed (which Hahneman believed was the seed of Erigeron or Senecio) was mixed by the physicians of Antikyra, a city of Phokis in Greece.[10]


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