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Toxic False Hellebore

We found corn lilies (false hellebore) growing under our basswood tree in Ontario. Research tells us they may be toxic? Are they rare? Please give us more information on this plant.

This member of the lily family is native to swamps, wet woods and meadows of New Brunswick, Quebec, New England south to Georgia and west to Minnesota. It is hardy in zones 3 to 8. The rhizomes and leaves are toxic. This plant was once used to control high blood pressure but the risk of poisoning and introduction of safer blood pressure medication stopped this use. It was also supposedly used to select leaders of Native American tribes. If the candidate survived eating this toxic plant he became the new chief. It is definitely not something you should try. The emerging foliage is quite attractive and the greenish white flowers last most of the summer on a plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall.


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