Also known as the Winter Rose, Oracle Rose, Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose, this flower is native to Asia and Europe, particularly the Balkans.
The name is taken from Helle- the Greek word for helein: “to injure”, and bore for food. Taken together, this means that a hellebore will injure you if you eat it! Indeed, all parts of this plant are toxic if consumed.
However, those of ancient times were said to put vases of these inside their homes as a visual cure for the winter blues.
In the northern hemisphere they flower coinciding with the Christian festival of lent, hence the name Lenten Rose.
What I find interesting about this little flower is the five petal-like sepals surrounding a ring of small cup-like nectaries, and although petals, are really modified to hold nectar. The sepals do not fall as petals would and remain on the plant for many months.
Pliny wrote, 'It floureth about Christmas, if the winter be mild and warm . . . called Christ herb. This plant hath thick and fat leaves of a deep green color, the upper part whereof is somewhat bluntly nicked or toothed, having sundry diversions or cuts, in some leaves many, in others fewer, like unto a female Peony. It beareth rose-colored flowers upon slender stems, growing immediately out of the ground, an handbreadth high, sometimes very white, and ofttimes mixed with a little shew of purple, which being faded, there succeed small husks full of black seeds; the roots are many; with long, black strings coming from one end.'