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Montana Field Guides

California False-hellebore - Veratrum californicum

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S2
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Low
CCVI: Highly Vulnerable
C-value: 4

Agency Status
USFS: Sensitive - Known in Forests (BD, BRT, KOOT)


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is known from a very localized area in the southwestern corner of the state.
General Description
California False-hellebore is a robust, herbaceous perennial with solitary, unbranched stems that are 1-2 m high and arising from thick rhizomes. The numerous, alternate, broadly elliptic, sessile leaves are 2-3 dm long, and they have entire margins and parallel veins and sheath the stem at the base. Foliage is glabrous below, with the stem becoming densely short-hairy above. The nearly sessile flowers are crowded in a narrow, erectly branched inflorescence that is 3-6 dm long. Each flower has 6 white, petal-like, narrowly elliptic tepals that are 10-15 mm long with green markings at the base. There are 6 stamens that are less than 1/2 as long as the tepals and a glabrous ovary that matures into an egg-shaped capsule that is 2-3 cm long.

Flowering in July-August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The more common and widespread Veratrum viride has greenish flowers, with petals that are 6-10 mm long and arranged on drooping branches of an open inflorescence.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
In Granite County; WA to MT south to CA, AZ and NM (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 31

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Wet meadows and streambanks in the montane and subalpine zones.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus insularis and Bombus flavidus (Thorp et al. 1983).

Threats or Limiting Factors
Reported threats to Montana's populations of California False-hellebore are due to concentrated elk trampling and browsing. Seed head browsing and bedding are observed annually at some populations, and is likely to have minor negative impacts to populations (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Aradottir, A.L. 1984. Ammonia volatilization from native grasslands and forests of SW Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 48 p.
    • Jones, W. W. 1901. Preliminary flora of Gallatin County. M.S. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State College. 78 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
California False-hellebore — Veratrum californicum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from