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Uses

Toxic parts

All parts of the plant are highly poisonous[1][2]. The flowers are poisonous to insects, including bees[1].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Veratrum californicum.

Material uses

The dried and powdered root is used as an insecticide and a parasiticide[3]. It is also effective against caterpillars and mammals so great caution is advised[4][5][6].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Although a very poisonous plant, California false hellebore was often employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it mainly as an external application to treat wounds etc[7]. It also had quite a reputation as a contraceptive[7]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. Any use of this plant, especially internal use, should be carried out with great care and preferably only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

The root is analgesic, disinfectant and febrifuge[7]. A decoction has been used in the treatment of venereal disease[7]. The roots have been grated then chewed and the juice swallowed as a treatment for colds[7]. A poultice of the mashed raw root has been used as a treatment for rheumatism, boils, sores, cuts, swellings and burns[7]. The dried and ground up root has been used as a dressing on bruises and sores[7]. A poultice of the chewed root has been applied to rattlesnake bites to draw out the poison[7]. The powdered root has been rubbed on the face to allay the pain of toothache[7].

A decoction of the root has been taken orally by both men and women as a contraceptive[8][7]. A dose of one teaspoon of this decoction three times a day for three weeks is said to ensure permanent sterility in women[9][10].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Unless stored in damp sand at around 4°c the seed has a short viability[2]. Where possible it is best to sow the seed in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[2]. Stored seed needs to be stratified but can be very slow to germinate. Germination can be erratic even for seed sown when it was fresh, it usually takes place within 3 - 12 months at 15°c but can be much longer[2]. The plant produces just one seedleaf in its first year, this forms an over-wintering bulb. It takes up to 10 years for the plant to reach maturity[2]. Sow the seed thinly so there is no need to thin or transplant them, and grow the seedlings on undisturbed in the pot for their first two years of growth. Apply a liquid feed at intervals through the growing season to ensure the plants do not become nutrient deficient. At the end of the second year plant out the dormant plants into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for a further year or two before planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.

Division in March/April or in October. Establish the plants in pots in a shaded frame before planting them out[2]. Division is best carried out in the autumn because the plants come into growth very early in the spring[11].

Root cuttings, 6mm long with a bud, rooted in a sandy soil in a cold frame[2].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Veratrum californicum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Requires a deep fertile moisture retentive humus-rich soil[2]. Succeeds in full sun if the soil does not dry out but prefers a position in semi-shade[2]. Dislikes dry soils[12]. Grows best in a cool woodland garden or a north facing border[12].

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[11].

Plants are long-lived and can be left in the same position for years without attention[11].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Veratrum californicum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Veratrum californicum.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Veratrum californicum
Genus
Veratrum
Family
Melanthiaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
5
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


    "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.






    References

    1. ? 1.01.1 Arnberger. L. P. Flowers of the Southwest Mountains. Southwestern Monuments Ass. (1968-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.22.32.42.52.62.72.82.9 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    4. ? 4.04.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    7. ? 7.007.017.027.037.047.057.067.077.087.097.10 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.2 Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Grey. C. H. Hardy Bulbs. Williams & Norgate. (1938-00-00)
    13. ? Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (1955-00-00)

    "image:Veratrum californicum habitus1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.