Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Corsican Hellebore, Corsican Rose
Helleborus argutifolius

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Helleborus (hel-eh-BORE-us) (Info)
Species: argutifolius (ar-gew-tih-FOH-lee-us) (Info)

Synonym:Helleborus corsicus
Synonym:Helleborus lividus subsp. corsicus

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

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24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

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 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:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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8 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ncelady On May 22, 2011, ncelady from Bartlesville, OK wrote:

I love this tough plant; wish there were other plants that were hardy enough to pop up as soon as Jan or Feb.!

Neutral TLux On May 18, 2011, TLux from Canton, GA wrote:

Word to the wise: This plant can hurt you. Beware the sap and juice, wear gloves, and do not wipe your face or eyes with your hands while you work.

Negative lawgal On May 30, 2009, lawgal from Pikesville, MD wrote:

The only reason I rated this negative is to warn people of it's danger. I had this for more than several years before I had a severe allergic skin reaction all over my face, hands, arms, chest and throat---basically anything I had touched. It lasted for WEEKS and burned horribly with ugly bad rash!

That said, it is a hardy, surprisingly drought-tolerant plant and has grown well over a foot tall for me as well here in Baltimore suburbs of Maryland .

I now wear gloves anywhere around it and immediately wash up!!!

Positive littlebrownwren On May 12, 2009, littlebrownwren from Grover Beach, CA wrote:

I lovelovelove this plant. I bought my first one as a struggling seedling in a quart pot five years ago and it's now more than three feet across and almost as tall (in bloom).

Interestingly enough, my plants tolerate dryness quite well; I've also seen it listed in many resources as appropriate for droughty plantings. This hellebore is from the Mediterranean and is noted for tolerating much more heat and dryness than most others. In fact, it will rot quite quickly if kept too wet, drainage is quite important, and it doesn't much appreciate clay soil. This is why my original seedling wasn't happy in its pot, as well as why Corsican hellebores in general don't do well potted. If you *must* pot them, try using extra vermiculite or perlite.

Most British references note that hellebores "are martyrs to botrytis", and that this one is no exception. Actually, this is the one hellebore in my garden that has never had a single bacterial spot! Not that it's a huge problem here, but I think it's interesting to note the differences made by geography.

I'm told this is a highly-deer resistant plant, and I agree that's certainly cause for rejoicing. However, snails are my nemesis here, not deer. I have to admit that if I were an easily frazzled gardener the fact that every snail in my garden seems to want to camp out in a Corsican hellebore would certainly be frazzle-worthy. Fortunately, I'm more of a can't be bothered-to-get-frazzled gardener, so I soon noticed that they seem to (mostly) eat something else. I can deal with that.

Bloom begins here sometime between January or February, and continues through May. As the flowers in each huge head (8-10" diameter) open, the stalks become so heavy that they splay out from the center of the plant. If I were clever, I'd cut the very fat woody stalks before seeds formed and dry the beautiful heads like hydrangeas. Mostly I just wait til some seeds pop in the hopes that I'll get some babies and then hack off all bloomed stems. By that time the new growth has arisen from the center of the plant, beautifully glossy and erect, aproximately 12" tall.

This is the perfect time to dig in some compost and mulch around the parent plants, but I've learned not to fertilize *at all* - if I do, the splaying begins *much* earlier - like in the later summer or fall! This ruins the plant's appearance, so don't be tempted. Remember, it's a toughie from the Corsica area - it's not used to a soft life!

As for seeding, well, after five years I finally have two, yeah, count 'em, t-w-o little babies. I think the problem is lack of winter chill (think insufficient stratification). Gardeners all over the world envy my climate - but it does have ONE or TWO disadvantages! LOL

Positive plantcrazy99 On Sep 12, 2008, plantcrazy99 from Mayerthorpe
Canada wrote:

I grew this plant from seed,it was the first hellebore I had ever grown from seed, it easily germinated (with patience and proper culture I got over 90% on year old seeds) and these became amazing hardy little seedlings, grown in zone 3, no protection their first winter other than from the micro climate in the garden forest they were growing in and six feet of snow from September till late May. It blew me away with its amazing hardiness and growth, 100% survival rate with 70% flowering in their second year from seed! Their second winter had only 1 ft of snow, very unusual in these parts, but out of 9 plants. I only lost one. Helleborus argutifolius grown from seed grows much better in my garden than an established nursery grown H. argutifolius, other species and H x hybrid plants that have been nursery grown and bought. For some insane reason all of these plants have died after their first winter. Every winter for the last three I have spent a fortune on a few of these beauties, from H. niger ( a $$$ variegated form) which is supposed to be the hardiest and perfect for my zone, to H x hybrid Lady series, all colors, Betty Ranicar when it cost a small fortune for a tiny division, to the species H. torquatus. (H. torquartus survived one winter, flowered and died, ) These were all big beautiful flowering size many budded plants,they thrived in my soil all spring, summer and fall and every year I would try them, I couldn't resist resist. One year next to them I planted my year old seedlings of a supposed less hardy species, H. argutifolius, and mother nature decided Helleborus argutifolius the winner!. I finally got it!! Now I try all helleborus I can from seed, the Lady series, Gold Bullion, Janet Starnes, and all the species I can get my hands on, with each there have been many successes and way fewer failures (although failures never stop, it is an important part of growing!). Now growing Helleborus from seed, I have gone from a 0% success rate with 3 year and older hellebore plants started and grown elsewhere (usually by division) transplanted to my garden to over 70% on plants from seed started in my garden. Long story, a little off topic, sorry, but it really is an amazing plant for me! Other than the success I have had growing from seed, it has many wonderful attributes. A long season of interest, beautiful long lasting flowers popping out of melting snow, mostly evergreen leaves with serrate edges and of a wonderful thick texture, all spring, summer and fall long. Depending on your winters, it either disappears under the snow, or continues providing interest with it's leaves, and in warmer winter areas, it will bloom in late winter / early spring Jan to March (for me that is late May). Deer hate it, no serious pests, all it needs is a little spring clean up of tattered leaves, last years flowers (that's if you didn't collect the seed or deadhead) and depending on placement, appropriate fertilizer. I give mine bone meal in early spring, usually on my beds still covered with snow and later on a little bit of blood meal and muriate of potash after flowering. They also get the natural leaf litter from my shrubs and my trembling aspen woodland colony beside woodland beds. This is a plant that deserves a place in every part shade or woodland garden.

Positive Jnette On Aug 17, 2005, Jnette from Northeast, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant is so hardy it blooms as soon as it works it's way out of the snow in the spring and maintains the blossoms until the snow covers them in the winter. Very tough and leathery leaves. A great asset to any perennial garden.

Positive Terry447 On Feb 19, 2005, Terry447 from El Cerrito, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This easy-to-care-for plant has thrived in sun or shade, taken transplanting in stride and thumbed its nose at our voracious neighborhood deer. (Nary a nibble.) The pale green blooms light up shady spots through the winter and spring, and the sawtoothed foliage looks great year-round.

Positive petern On Jun 24, 2003, petern wrote:

WARNING. Do NOT allow any sap from Argutifolius to come into contact with the skin as it can produce a severe allergic reaction. This happened to my wife whilst dead-heading the plants.

Positive ceedub On Jun 22, 2003, ceedub from Whitby, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

I live on the north shore of Lake Ontario (zone 6a). I bought my Corsican Hellebore late last summer and planted it on the north side of my house. It bloomed in January, then the foilage slowly died in the sub-zero weather over the winter. I found rotted foliage after the snow melted early this spring and wrote it off. BUT!!! It came back in early May, and is now (June 22nd) beautiful and lush. A very hardy plant with flowers at an amazing time of year-just when they're needed.

Positive Terry On Apr 15, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant looks like a delicate seedling, but is tough as nails. I planted out some seedlings early last summer, and thought for sure I'd kill them (their stems seem so delicate, but are just good and wiry.)

The plants have grown tremendously since being planted out, and are close to a foot tall already.


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

Birmingham, Alabama
Baywood-los Osos, California
Clayton, California
El Cerrito, California
Fairfield, California
Grover Beach, California
La Mesa, California
Morgan Hill, California
Pittsburg, California
Salinas, California
San Luis Obispo, California
Canton, Georgia
Boise, Idaho
Pikesville, Maryland
Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
New York City, New York
Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Emory, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
East Port Orchard, Washington
Ione, Washington
Kalama, Washington

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