Helleborus niger ‘Josef Lemper’
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Helleborus niger, commonly called Christmas rose, is a winter-blooming evergreen perennial which blooms around Christmas time in warm winter regions, but later (February or March) in the cold northern parts of the growing range. Bloom time can vary considerably based upon the degree of severity of the winter climate. It is native to alpine areas and open woodlands in southern and central Europe. This plant typically grows to 8-15" tall and features large, cup-shaped, rose-like white flowers (to 3" diameter) with crowns of conspicuously contrasting yellow stamens. Each flower has five large and showy petal-like sepals (petals are quite small and inconspicuous). Flowers usually appear singly on thick stems which usually do not rise above the foliage. This is an acaulescent species (without stems) which produces only basal leaves, each being palmate, deeply-lobed, somewhat waxy, and dark green with 7-9 leaflets. In the St. Louis area, leaves remain evergreen in moderate winters, but may become somewhat tattered in extremely cold winter areas where temperatures dip below zero, particularly if foliage is not protected by snow cover. Flowers sometimes bloom in the snow and bloom can survive spurts of sub-zero temperatures.
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