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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Liliales

Familia: Melanthiaceae
Tribus: Melanthieae

Genus: Veratrum
Sectiones: V. sect. Fuscoveratrum – V. sect. Veratrum

Species: V. album – V. californicum – V. dahuricum – V. fimbriatum – V. grandiflorum – V. hybridum – V. japonicum – V. maackii – V. maximum – V. mengtzeanum – V. nigrum – V. oxysepalum – V. schindleri – V. stamineum – V. virginicum – V. viride

Nothospecies: V. × tonussii

Veratrum L., 1753.

Type species: V. album

Acelidanthus Trautv. & Mey., in Middend. Reise (Fl. Ochot. 94., t. 28). 1847.
Evonyxis Raf., Fl. Tellur. ii. 29; iv. 27 (1836).
Leimanthium Willd., Mag. Neuesten Entdeck. Gesammten Naturk. Ges. Naturf. Freunde Berlin 2: 24. 1808
Melanthium L., Sp. Pl. 1: 339. 1753


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus II: 1044. Reference page.
Zomlefer, W.B., Whitten, W.M., Williams, N.H., Judd, W.S. 2003. An Overview of Veratrum s.l. (Liliales: Melanthiaceae) and an Infrageneric Phylogeny Based on ITS Sequence Data. Systematic Botany 28(2), 250-269.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Veratrum in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Vernacular names
azərbaycanca: Asırqal
башҡортса: Аҡһырғаҡ
čeština: kýchavice
Чӑвашла: Кикен
dansk: Foldblad
Deutsch: Germer
English: false hellebore, corn lily
suomi: Pärskäjuuret
français: Vératre
hornjoserbsce: Kichawa
日本語: シュロソウ属
қазақша: Тамырдәрі
lietuvių: Čemerys
norsk nynorsk: Nyserotslekta
norsk: Nyserotslekta/nyserotslekten
Ирон: Кæндыс
polski: Ciemiężyca
русский: Чемерица
саха тыла: Өлөтөк
slovenčina: kýchavica
српски / srpski: Чемерика
svenska: Nysrotssläktet
中文: 藜芦属

vVeratrum is a genus of flowering plants in the family Melanthiaceae.[3] It occurs in damp habitats across much of temperate and subarctic Europe, Asia, and North America.[2][4][5][6][7]

Veratrum species are vigorous herbaceous perennials with highly poisonous black rhizomes, and panicles of white or brown flowers on erect stems.[8] In English they are known as both false hellebores and corn lilies. However, Veratrum is not closely related to hellebores, corn, or lilies.


Veratrum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Setaceous Hebrew Character.
False hellebore growing in its natural habitat, in the wet soils with good drainage of mountainous, alpine-tundra/forest transition-areas, such as Turnagain Pass, Alaska. This plant is roughly 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, but can reach over 6 feet.

Widely distributed in montane habitats of temperate Northern Hemisphere, Veratrum species prefer full sunlight and deep, wet soils, and are common in wet mountain meadows, swamps, and near streambanks.

Veratrum species contain highly toxic steroidal alkaloids (e.g. veratridine) that activate sodium ion channels and cause rapid cardiac failure and death if ingested.[9] 2-deoxyjervine is also found in the plant and is known to cause cyclopia.[10] All parts of the plant are poisonous, with the root and rhizomes being the most poisonous.[9] Symptoms typically occur between thirty minutes and four hours after ingestion and include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, numbness, headache, sweating, muscle weakness, bradycardia, hypotension, cardiac arrhythmia, and seizures.[9] Treatment for poisoning includes gastrointestinal decontamination with activated charcoal followed by supportive care including antiemetics for persistent nausea and vomiting, along with atropine for treatment of bradycardia and fluid replacement and vasopressors for the treatment of hypotension.[9]

The toxins are only produced during active growth. In the winter months, the plant degrades and metabolizes most of its toxic alkaloids. Native Americans harvested the roots for medicinal purposes during this dormant period.

Native Americans used the juice pressed from the roots of this plant to poison arrows before combat. The dried powdered root of this plant was also used as an insecticide.[11] Western American Indian tribes have a long history of using this plant medicinally, and combined minute amounts of the winter-harvested root of this plant with Salvia dorii to potentiate its effects and reduce the toxicity of the herb. The plants' teratogenic properties and ability to induce severe birth defects were well known to Native Americans.[11]
Medical research

During the 1930s Veratrum extracts were investigated in the treatment of high blood pressure in humans. Patients treated often suffered side effects due to the narrow therapeutic index of these products. Due to their toxicity and the availability of other less toxic drugs, use of Veratrum as a treatment for high blood pressure in humans was discontinued.[9]
Herbal medicine

Members of Veratrum are known both in western herbalism and traditional Chinese medicine as toxic herbs to be used with great caution. It is one of the medicinals ("Li lu") cited in Chinese herbal texts as incompatible with many other common herbs because of its potentiating effects. Especially, many root (and root-shaped) herbs, particularly ginseng, san qi, and hai seng, will create and or exacerbate a toxic effect.[12]

The roots of V. nigrum and V. schindleri have been used in Chinese herbalism, where plants of this genus are known as "li lu" (藜蘆). Li lu is used internally as a powerful emetic of last resort, and topically to kill external parasites, treat tinea and scabies, and stop itching.[12] Some herbalists refuse to prescribe li lu internally, citing the extreme difficulty in preparing a safe and effective dosage, and that death has occurred at a dosage of 0.6 gram.[12]

Accepted species[2]

Veratrum albiflorum: Russian Far East
Veratrum album: Europe, Siberia, Caucasus, Turkey
Veratrum alpestre: Primorye, Korea, Japan
Veratrum anticleoides: Russian Far East
Veratrum californicum: western USA; Mexico (Chihuahua, Durango)
Veratrum dahuricum: Siberia, Russian Far East, Korea, China
Veratrum dolichopetalum: Russian Far East, Korea, China
Veratrum fimbriatum: California (Sonoma + Mendocino Cos)
Veratrum formosanum: Taiwan
Veratrum grandiflorum: China
Veratrum hybridum (syn V. latifolium): eastern United States
Veratrum insolitum: Washington, Oregon, California
Veratrum lobelianum: Russia, Mongolia, Xinjiang, Central Asia, Caucasus
Veratrum longibracteatum: Honshu
Veratrum maackii: Russian Far East, China, Korea, Japan
Veratrum mengtzeanum: China, Thailand
Veratrum micranthum: Sichuan, Yunnan
Veratrum nigrum: Eurasia from France to Korea
Veratrum oblongum: Sichuan, Hubei, Jiangxi
Veratrum oxysepalum: Asiatic Russia, China, Korea, Japan, Alaska
Veratrum parviflorum: southern Appalachians in eastern USA
Veratrum schindleri: China
Veratrum shanense: China, Myanmar
Veratrum stamineum: Japan
Veratrum taliense: Sichuan, Yunnan
Veratrum × tonussii : Italy
Veratrum versicolor: Korea, China
Veratrum virginicum: central and eastern United States
Veratrum viride: northeastern and northwestern North America (but not central)
Veratrum woodii: south-central United States

See also

List of plants known as lily


1897 illustration from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
Tropicos, Veratrum L.
Flora of North America, Vol. 26 Page 72, False hellebore, skunk-cabbage, corn-lily, vérâtre, varaire, Veratrum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1044. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5: 468. 1754.
Flora of China Vol. 24 Page 82 藜芦属 li lu shu Veratrum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1044. 1753.
Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Veratrum includes photos and European distribution maps
Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution maps
RHS A–Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
Schep LJ, Schmierer DM, Fountain JS (2006). "Veratrum poisoning". Toxicol Rev. 25 (2): 73–8. doi:10.2165/00139709-200625020-00001. PMID 16958554. S2CID 42124743.
"Teratology Society".
Edible and Medicinal plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford, ISBN 0-87842-359-1
Bensky, D., Clavey, S., Stoger, E. (2004). Materia Medica (3rd edition). Seattle: Eastland Press. p. 461.

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