Flower of False Hellebore, Yellow Pheasant’s Eye – Adonis Vernalis (Ranunculaceae)

Medicinal Use of False Hellebore, Yellow Pheasant’s Eye – Adonis Vernalis (Ranunculaceae)


Perennial herb growing to 8 in (20 cm). Has a scaly stem and feathery compound leaves. Stem bears large, bright yellow flowers up to 3 in (8 cm) across.

Habitat & Cultivation

Originating from the steppes of Russia and from the Black Sea region, this herb is native to much of Europe but not to Britain. It grows in mountain pasture undergrowth. It is rare and legally protected in Western Europe.

Parts Used

Aerial parts.


False hellebore contains cardiac glycosides, including adonitoxin.

History & Folklore

False hellebore’s botanical name refers to Adonis, a figure in Greek mythology associated with the seasonal renewal of plant life.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

False hellebore contains cardiac glycosides similar to those found in foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). These substances improve the heart’s efficiency, increasing its output while at the same time slowing its rate. Unlike foxglove, however, false hellebore’s effect on the heart is slightly sedative, and it is generally prescribed for patients with hearts that are beating too fast or irregularly. False hellebore is also recommended as a treatment for certain cases of low blood pressure. In common with other plants containing cardiac glycosides, false hellebore is strongly diuretic and can be used to counter water retention, particularly in cases of poor circulatory function. False hellebore is used in homeopathic medicine as a treatment for angina.


Take only under professional supervision. Gathering wild plants and their medicinal use are subject to legal restrictions in some countries.