What is false hellebore?
False hellebore is one of many common names given to the highly poisonous plant Veratrum viride. It is also known as Indian poke, Indian hellebore and American white hellebore, among other names.
False hellebore is a perennial that grows wildly in wet soils throughout the U.S., especially on the East Coast and in the Northwest. It grows 2-8 feet tall with a thick green stem, large, ribbed leaves and hairy, star-shaped flowers.
False hellebore is sometimes mistaken for wild leeks, also known as ramps (Allium tricoccum). These edible wild plants grow in the same areas as false hellebore, and false hellebore leaves sometimes look similar for a couple weeks early in the spring. Unlike ramps, false hellebore leaves are ribbed or pleated and false hellebore does not smell like onions. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has some good photos of wild leeks.
Eating false hellebore is very harmful. If you are picking wild plants to eat, be sure you know what they are. Consider looking into classes offered by a trusted local organization.