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(hellebore), a genus of perennial herbaceous plants of the family Ranunculaceae. The leaves are radical, longpetiolate, palmatisect or pedatisect, and leathery. The large flowers have five greenish, whitish, or purple persistent sepals and small petals that are converted into tubular-funnelform nectaries. There are multiple fruits. The more than 20 species are distributed primarily in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean region, and eastward to Asia Minor; they usually grow in the shade on mountains. In the USSR there are three species, the most common being Helleborus caucasicus. Hellebores blossom in early spring. They are ornamentals; primarily hybrid forms are used in floriculture. The plants are poisonous. The rhizomes of H. purpurascens contain glycosides used in medicine. Some hellebores are nectariferous.