Online Encyclopedia

VERATRUM

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 1016 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VERATRUM. The Greek physicians were acquainted with a poisonous herb which they called white hellebore, and which has been supposed to represent the Veratrum album of modem botanists. Be this as it may, in modern times the name has been applied to a genus of herbaceous plants belonging to the natural order Liliaceae. Veratrum is a tall-growing herb, having a fibrous root-stock, an erect stem, with numerous broad, plicated leaves placed alternately, and terminal, much-branched clusters of greenish or purplish polygamous flowers. Each perfect flower consists of six regular petals, as many stamens, whose anthers open outwardly, and a three-celled superior ovary which ripens into a three-celled, many-seeded capsule. The genus comprises about nine species, natives of the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, generally growing in pastures or woods. V. album and the American species V. viride are commonly grown in gardens as ornamental perennials, but their poisonous qualities should be kept in mind, particularly as they bear a considerable resemblance in foliage to the harmless Gentiana lutea. Both contain the potent alkaloid veratrine. (See also HELLEBORE.)
End of Article: VERATRUM
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