Pieter Holsteyn the Younger (Dutch, 1614-1687) Elleborus Niger (Christmas rose or black hellebore) Watercolor on paper
Pieter Holsteyn the Younger (Dutch, 1614-1687)
Elleborus Niger (Christmas rose or black hellebore)
Watercolor on paper
Paper size: 12 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.
Helleborus niger, commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore is a common European garden flower because of its heartiness through winter months. Although the flowers resemble wild roses (and despite its common name), Christmas rose does not belong to the rose family. In the wild, it is generally found in mountainous areas in Switzerland, southern Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and northern Italy.
The black hellebore was described by Carl Linnaeus in volume one of his Species Plantarum in 1753. The Latin specific name niger (black) may refer to the color of the roots. It’s common name comes from a legend that it sprouted in the snow from the tears of a young girl who had no gift to give the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Black hellebore was the dominant purgative of antiquity, frequently prescribed for that purpose by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in the fifth century B.C. It was said to be introduced by Melampus, with which he healed the madness of the daughters of Proteus, king of Argos.
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