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Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Native to Europe and northern Asia and introduced to AK.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Veratrum album

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Veratrum album

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Reasons: Data primarily from Bailey & Bailey, 1976, Hortus Third.

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Wikipedia

Veratrum album

Veratrum album, commonly known as false helleborine, white hellebore, European white hellebore, white veratrum; syn. Veratrum lobelianum Bernh.[1]), is a poisonous medicinal plant[2][3] of the Liliaceae (lily family) or Melanthiaceae. It is native to Europe.

Plant description[edit]

The plant is a perennial herb with a stout vertical rhizome covered with remnants of old leaf sheaths. The stout, simple stems are 50 to 175 cm tall. They have been mistaken for yellow gentian, Gentiana lutea, which is used in beverages, resulting in poisoning.[4][5][6]

Resveratrol has been isolated from the plant.[7][8]

Uses[edit]

The root is very poisonous, with a paralyzing effect on the nervous system.[1] In two cases of fatal poisoning from eating the seeds, the toxins veratridine and cevadine were present in the blood. In 1983 sneezing powders produced from the herb in West Germany were reported to have caused severe intoxications in Scandinavia.[9]

History[edit]

In 2014 it was claimed that Alexander the Great could have been poisoned by a wine made from Veratrum album.[10][11] Previously it was believed that poisoning due to arsenic or (a mythical belief) the water of the river Styx may have led to the death of the Greek King of Macedon.

In antiquity, an effective emetic based on white hellebore and a bitter oval seed (which Hahneman believed was the seed of Erigeron or Senecio) was mixed by the physicians of Antikyra, a city of Phokis in Greece.[12]

Leaves
ssp. oxysepalum

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Veratrum album at Plants For A Future
  2. ^ Felter, Harvey Wickes. (1922) The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
  3. ^ Felter, Harvey Wickes; Lloyd, John Uri. (1898) King's American Dispensatory.
  4. ^ Zagler, B.; Zelger, A.; Salvatore, C.; Pechlaner, C.; De Giorgi, F.; Wiedermann, C. (2005). "Dietary poisoning with Veratrum album--a report of two cases". Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 117 (3): 106–108. doi:10.1007/s00508-004-0291-x. PMID 15773425.  edit
  5. ^ Rauber-Lüthy, C.; Halbsguth, U.; Kupferschmidt, H.; König, N.; Mégevand, C.; Zihlmann, K.; Ceschi, A. (2010). "Low-Dose Exposure to Veratrum album in Children Causes Mild Effects -- A Case Series". Clinical Toxicology 48 (3): 234–237. doi:10.3109/15563650903575243. PMID 20170391.  edit
  6. ^ Verovnik F. (1999). "Naključna zastrupitev z belo čmeriko" [Accidental Poisoning with White Hellebore]. Zdravniški Vestnik (in Slovene) 68 (3): 157–160. 
  7. ^ Delmas, D., et al. (2006). "Resveratrol as a chemopreventive agent: A promising molecule for fighting cancer". Current Drug Targets 7 (3): 423–442. doi:10.2174/138945006776359331. PMID 16611030. 
  8. ^ Takaoka, M., 1939. [Resveratrol, a new phenolic compound, from Veratrum grandiflorum] (Title in Japanese). Nippon Kagaku Kaishi 60, 1090-1100.
  9. ^ Fogh, A.; Kulling, P.; Wickstrom, E. (1983). "Veratrum Alkaloids in Sneezing-Powder a Potential Danger". Clinical Toxicology 20 (2): 175–179. doi:10.3109/15563658308990062. PMID 6887310.  edit
  10. ^ Schep LJ, Slaughter RJ, Vale JA, Wheatley P (January 2014). "Was the death of Alexander the Great due to poisoning? Was it Veratrum album?". Clinical Toxicology 52 (1): 72–7. doi:10.3109/15563650.2013.870341. PMID 24369045. 
  11. ^ Bennett-Smith, Meredith (14 January 2014). "Was Alexander The Great Poisoned By Toxic Wine?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Hahnemann, S. (1852), "A Medical Historical Dissertation on the Helleborism of the Ancients", The Lesser writings of Samuel Hahnemann, William Radde, p. 604, para. 117 
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Notes

Comments

This is the only Veratrum species to occur in Europe, Asia, and North America, and it is probably more widespread in northwestern Alaska than reported. Veratrum album is highly variable in size, flower color, pedicel length, and hairiness, and it has an extensive synonymy in Eurasia. Within the species at large, a polyploid series that includes 4x, 9x, 10x, and 12x accompanies the complex variability among constituent populations (M. N. Tamura 1998).
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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