As we get closer to Christmas (only 26 days now) we will be taking a look at all those different types of foliage we associate with Christmas, from poinsettia to Christmas trees, each one is stooped in symbolism and tradition that is really quite interesting. Today we will look at the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger.
The Christmas rose is, ironically, not even a rose but a member of the buttercup family. It gets the common name, Christmas rose from its resemblance to wild roses with its large flat flowers on short stems, it produces white and occasionally pink flowers standing around 9-12 inches in height. Its natural habitat can be found up in the mountainous regions of Switzerland, Bavarian Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and Croatia but can grow in any well drained garden soil and is hardy even in the most shaded of areas. It is a true Christmas plant as it flowers in the depths of winters to early spring but don?t be going off looking to pick it as it is highly poisonous and even touching it can cause skin irritations.
The Christmas rose is another plant that is steeped in history, tradition and folklore. The plant is heavily associated with Christianity and the birth of Christ through a little Sheppard named Madelon. The legend goes that Madelon was tending to here sheep one cold and wintry night, three wise men and a group of Sheppard?s passed by her snow covered filed bearing gifts for the Christ Child, the wise men with frankincense, gold and myrrh and the Sheppard?s bearing fruits, honey and doves. Madelon became saddened that she didn?t have any gift for the newborn kind, not even a simple flower and began to weep. An angle looking down saw Madelon tears and came down to here aid and brushed away the snow to reveal a beautiful white flower with tips of pink, our Christmas rose.
A lovely legend of the spirit of Christmas for a beautiful flower.