Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bear's Foot, Stinking Hellebore
Helleborus foetidus

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Helleborus (hel-eh-BORE-us) (Info)
Species: foetidus (FET-uh-dus) (Info)

8 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

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18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From herbaceous stem cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 17 photos.
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4 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Hudson3 On Mar 13, 2011, Hudson3 from Hudson, NY wrote:

Stately, beautiful and mysterious plant for the woodland garden. Blooms very early --often through the snow, would probably be happier in zone 6. Self-sows. Nice with other hellebores (it's taller and has more delicate leaves). A unique and beautiful plant.

Positive fel On Apr 26, 2009, fel from Wynnewood, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Unusual looking plant for the person who wants a varied, rather tropical looking shade garden. Not really the kind of thing for a traditional border. I like them -- they self-seed after a few years, and they grow in shade, between rocks, or enmeshed in tree roots, without any trouble.

Neutral PurplePansies On Apr 16, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

I'll give this plant a neutral because it grew like a pro.... very easy.... looks lush and "perfect" with minimal care..... however its NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT....! ..... the evergreen leaves are nice (because they are evergreen!) but the flower are TOTALLY UNIMPRESSIVE...... small green things that don't stand out and hand down so you can hardly see them..... this may be nice used as a ground cover in "unwalked on" areas so that its foliage could provide winter green the the small green flowers would be a "bonus".... don't use as any sort of specimen..... as alone or used in such a manner it is very unimpressive.....
NOTE: this plant sap/juice/leaves bracts etc. can cause EXTREME DERMATITIS. It can lead to PAINFUL burning of the skin especially "open" areas. Even washing with soap and water only mildy numbs the pain. Use caution.

Positive jklewis On Nov 30, 2004, jklewis from Cambridge, MA wrote:

I got this plant from The Primrose Path in Scottdale PA, where it has naturalized in shady areas. It is doing well here in Cambridge MA. The two-year-old plant set its flowers this fall, and I expect full bloom early next year. The foliage is lovely and evergreen. I understand that this plant's origin is Asia.

Positive jkom51 On Jul 12, 2003, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a very vigorous unnamed specimen of H.foetidus. It was put in the ground from a 1-qt size in September and started flowering in December. That flower stalk lasted until April. The plant continued to expand vigorously and put up a second flower stalk which has just started to open up blooms (today is July 11th). This is my first experience with hellebores (I have three H. orientalis as well) here in coastal Northern CA/Sunset zone 17, and it looks like they are very consistent bloomers for well over half a year. With such attractive evergreen foliage I'm surprised they are not grown more often in gardens here.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The plant has very large flowers which appear in groups and hang downwards due to their weight. These flowers are pale green and remain tightly closed and are therefore not very noticeable.

Warning, though...all parts of this plant are poisonous. Possibly causing burning of mouth and throat, salivation, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nervous symptoms, depression.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Oakland, California
Sacramento, California
Vallejo, California
Townsend, Delaware
Gary, Indiana
Fallston, Maryland
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Grand Marais, Michigan
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Hudson, New York
New York City, New York
Panama, New York
Cary, North Carolina
Davidson, North Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina
New Bern, North Carolina
Weaverville, North Carolina
Eugene, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Barto, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Scottdale, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Charlottesville, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Arlington, Washington
Bellevue, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Port Townsend, Washington
South Prairie, Washington

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