Helleborus purpurascens

Helleborus purpurascens, Waldstein & Kitaibel (1802)

Purple hellebore

Helleborus purpurascens is one of the compact Helleborus species. It grows naturally in northwestern Romania, eastern Hungary, western Ukraine, eastern Slovenia and in the southeast of Poland. Helleborus purpurascens is a true forest plant and thrives in light woodlands and on the edges of forests, preferably in limy soils at altitudes of up to 650 metres.

This acaulescent species is not evergreen, despite its thick leathery, dark green leaves that can take on a purple shade on the undersides. New leaves develop in early winter with hairs on the undersides, but sometimes only on the prominent veins. The leaves consist of five main segments, each having three to six divisions. Each division is elliptical in shape and toothed.

Fleshy dark-coloured flower stems usually carrying three to four flowers appear even before the leaves develop. The 5-7 cm large blooms open as soon as the flower stems have emerged from the soil. Helleborus purpurascens naturally flower in March and April in habitat and as early as January to March in cultivation. This Helleborus species comes in a large range of colours. Typically, the cup-shaped flowers are a purplish violet or reddish purple colour. However, some plants produce flowers that are a delicate purple on the outside and slightly paler inside, whereas flowers on other plants are green inside. Even slate blue to brownish flower colours have been found in this species.

The plants are 15-30 cm in height when the fruits mature.