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Don’t let the name fool you, as stinking hellebore’s evergreen foliage and clusters of drooping, bell-shaped, greenish-white flowers emerging from pale green bracts are a much-needed spot of color in the winter woodland garden. Established plants will readily self-seed to form colonies if flowers are allowed to dry on the plant. All parts of the stinking hellebore- leaves, stems, and roots, are poisonous.

Latin Name

Hellebore foetidus



Also Known As

Bearfoot setter wort dungwort

Type of Plant

Perennials Perennials

Bloom Season

January - March


Winter Winter


Max height Max Height: 2'
Max spread Max Spread: 1.5'


  • Ground Cover
  • Naturalize

  • Sunlight Exposure

    Full Shade Full Shade
    Part Shade Part Shade


  • Deer

  • Toxicity

    Do not ingest Do not ingest
    Harmful to pets Harmful to pets


    Native Range



    On a list dated from 1793, Lady Jean Skipwith of Prestwould Plantation in Clarksville records growing stinking hellebore, or setter wort, in her gardens.

    Planted at Mount Vernon

    Planted at Mount Vernon Upper Garden

  • Upper Garden

  • Hardiness Zones

    5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b 9a 9b USDA basemap

    Average annual extreme minimum temperature 1976-2005

    map legend 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b 9a 9b

    Bartlett Tree Expert Company has been working with Mount Vernon Estate since 2011 providing expert arboricultural care and GPS mapping for the estate’s historic trees, as well as support from their research facility.   Mount Vernon is proud to partner with Bartlett Tree Experts and appreciates their sponsorship of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Plant Finder App.

    Bring Washington's Garden Home

    Purchase our historic seeds, collected from plants grown at Mount Vernon and plant them in your own garden.

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