Common Names in English:
California False Hellebore, Californian False Hellebore, Skunk-Cabbage
, from short, thick, vertical
rhizomes and swollen basal bulbs; roots
. Stems erect
, hollow, robust
, basally thickened, leafy. Leaves alternate, simple, strongly veined, narrowly to broadly orbicular
, often plicate
, reduced upwards, narrowed into closed
, often overlapping sheaths
. Inflorescences compound-racemose or large terminal-paniculate, bracteate
. Flowers bisexual
or some proximal
; perianth perigynous, rotate to ± campanulate
, with hypanthium fused to base
of ovary; tepals persistent
, 6, spreading
to erect, distinct
to weakly connate
basally, off-white, green, yellow, or purple, petaloid
, not clawed, equal to subequal
entire or erose-fimbriate; glands
1-2, basal, on adaxial
surface, V-shaped over midrib
pair; stamens 6, perigynous; filaments
persistent, 1-locular with confluent
thecae, cordate-reniform, dehiscence apical/valvate; ovary superior or partly inferior, 3-locular; styles 3, erect to divergent, distinct, short; stigmas elongate
, extending down
inner style surfaces. Fruits capsular
, deeply 3-lobed, style beaks persistent, dehiscence septicidal. Seeds ellipsoid
, flat, broadly winged
reduced to basal ridges in V. fimbriatum). x
Species 25-30: Northern Hemisphere.
The number of Veratrum species depends on the taxonomic treatment of four wide-ranging species complexes, three of which are entirely or mainly Eurasian (V. album, V. nigrum Linnaeus, and V. maackii Regel) and one North American (V. viride) (O. Loesener 1926, 1927, 1928; B . Mathew 1989; J. H. Zimmerman 1958). The Asian species have been variously circumscribed (Chen S. C. and H. Takahashi 2000; H. Kato et al. 1996; T. Nakai 1937, 1937b; N. S. Lee 1985, 1985b). Generic size further depends on inclusion or not of the closely related Melanthium (J. D. Ambrose 1975, 1980; P. Goldblatt 1995; M. N. Tamura 1998; W. B. Zomlefer 1997b), here treated as a separate genus.
The medicinal/poisonous properties of Veratrum involve a complex of cerveratrum and jerveratrum alkaloids, some with proven hypotensive properties and others that are highly toxic to humans and livestock (S. M. Kupchan et al. 1961; A. Osol et al. 1960; I. W. Southon and J. Buckingham 1989). Veraloid, a standard mixture of the most hypotensive Veratrum alkaloids, was widely prescribed until late in the nineteenth century, when emetic side effects greatly curtailed its use. The types and concentrations of alkaloids vary with the species, plant part, and season (C. A. Taylor 1956, 1956b). Several Veratrum species are occasionally cultivated surrounded by low-growing plants for their architectural appeal in mesic or bog gardens. Century-old plants grow from the long-lived rhizome-bulb.
Species Veratrum californicum
Stems 1-2.5 m
, ± glabrous
, distalmost lanceolate to lance-linear
, 20-40 ×
15-25 cm, reduced distally, tomentose-ciliate, curly-hairy abaxially,
glabrous or veins sparsely short-hairy adaxially. Inflorescences
dense-paniculate, with spreading
to stiffly erect
branches to near
or distal 1/3-1/2 unbranched, 30-70 cm, tomentose; bracts ovate-elliptic
to lanceolate, shorter than to obviously longer
than flowers. Tepals
creamy white, greenish basally, lanceolate to elliptic
not or very slightly clawed, 8-17 mm, margins
entire to denticulate
glabrous to abaxially tomentose; gland
1, basal, green, V-shaped;
ovary glabrous or with few hairs
; pedicel 1-6 mm.
, 2-3 cm, glabrous. Seeds flat, winged
, 10-12 mm. [source]
Different geographic elements of Veratrum californicum have been described as separate species or varieties. The variation seems to be clinal, with most variants not consistent in their appearance or distribution. We have recognized two varieties that appear to be fairly consistent in their distributions and characteristics. [source]
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,018 meters (0 to 9,902 feet).
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- Haeckel, 1866
- Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Vascular Plants
- Kenrick & Crane, 1997
- Brongniart, 1843
- Takhtajan, 1967
- Takhtajan, 1967
- Perleb, 1826
- Batsch, 1802, nom. cons.
- C. Linnaeus, 1753
- False hellebore, skunk-cabbage, corn-lily, vÃ©rÃ¢tre, varaire [Latin vere, true, and ater, black, alluding to black rhizomes found in some species]
- Specific epithet:
- Botanical name: - Veratrum californicum Durand
- Specific epithet: californicum - Durand
- Genus: Veratrum () - C. Linnaeus, 1753 - False hellebore, skunk-cabbage, corn-lily, vÃ©rÃ¢tre, varaire [Latin vere, true, and ater, black, alluding to black rhizomes found in some species]
- Family: Melanthiaceae () - Batsch, 1802, nom. cons.
- Order: Liliales () - Perleb, 1826
- Superorder: Lilianae () - Takhtajan, 1967
- Subclass: Liliidae () - Takhtajan, 1967
- Class: Spermatopsida () - Brongniart, 1843
- Infraphylum: Radiatopses () - Kenrick & Crane, 1997
- Subphylum: Euphyllophytina ()
- Phylum: Tracheophyta () - Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998 - Vascular Plants
- Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae () - Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Kingdom: Plantae () - Haeckel, 1866 - Plants
Publishing author : Durand Publication : Pl. Pratten. Calif. [Durand] 103 (-104) 1855 [Jun 1855]
Members of the genus Veratrum
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 16 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:
V. album (White False Hellebore) · V. album album (White False Hellebore) · V. californicum (California False Hellebore) · V. californicum var. californicum (California False Hellebore) · V. californicum var. caudatum (Cascade False Hellebore) · V. californicum var. tenuipetaloides (California False Hellebore) · V. fimbriatum (Fringed False Hellebore) · V. formosanum (Veratrum) · V. grandiflorum (Veratrum) · V. insolitum (Siskiyou False Hellebore) · V. nigrum (Black False Hellebore) · V. oxysepalum (White False Hellebore) · V. oxysepalum oxysepalum (White False Hellebore) · V. tenuipetalum (Colorado False Hellebore) · V. viride (Corn Lily) · V. viride var. escholtzianoides (American White-Hellebore)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 01, 2008:
- Berkeley Natural History Museums, University and Jepson Herbaria DiGIR provider
- Comisión nacional para el conocimiento y uso de la biodiversidad, Herbario del Instituto de Ecología, A.C., México
- Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden
- Oregon State University, Vascular Plant Collection
- School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Arizona State University Vascular Plant Herbarium
- School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, The Deaver Herbarium, Northern Arizona University
- USDA PLANTS, USDA PLANTS Database
- University of Washington Burke Museum, Vascular Plant Collection - University of Washington Herbarium
- Utah State University, USU-UTC Specimen Database
- Utah Valley State College
- , Utah Valley State College Herbarium
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 2662433
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: Kew-291216
- GRIN Nomen Number: 41143
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 42757
- International Plant Names Index (IPNI) ID: 543476-1
- MoBot NameID: 18401403
- U.S.D.A. Plant Symbol: VECAC
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 67573
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- Mean = 1,183.880 meters (3,884.121 feet), Standard Deviation = 683.820 based on 321 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]