Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

False Hellebore

Last Sunday I went out for my first attempt of the year to photograph spring wildflowers at McConnell's Mill State Park, but I was a bit early for all but the smallest, earliest flowers. Instead of being disappointed, I turned my attention to what was there and that I would enjoy photographing. As my teacher Nancy Rotenberg used to say "take the gift you are given"!

I have always been a fan of the wonderful whorls of symmetrical leaves of the so called False Hellebore, or Veratrum viride.

False Hellebore, scientific name Veratrum viride    © Howard Grill

Despite its good looks, the plant is highly toxic! Here is an interesting assessment of the effects of ingestion from Wikipedia:

"The plant is highly toxic, causing nausea and vomiting. If the poison is not evacuated, cold sweat and vertigo appears. Respiration slows, cardiac rhythm and blood pressure falls, eventually leading to death. The toxic effects of veratrum alkaloids are directly induced by antagonism of adrenergic receptors.

It is used externally by several Native American nations. Although is rarely ever used in modern herbalism due to its concentration of various alkaloids, it has been used in the past against high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat; a standardized extract of V. viride alkaloids known as alkavervir was used in the 1950s and 1960s as an antihypertensive.[11][12] The root contains even higher concentrations than the aerial parts.

So if you see one, enjoy its symmetry but don't taste!

by Howard G

© Howard Grill