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A picture of a Masterwort


Astrantia major

Also known as

Greater Masterwort, Astrantia, Great Black Masterwort, Melancholy Gentleman, Black Hellebore

Astrantia major 01 by "pastilletes"/Joan Simon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








2 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Masterwort

A close up of some white Astrantia major flowers
A photo of Masterwort
A close up of some white Astrantia major flowers
A photo of Masterwort
A photo of Masterwort

Masterwort Overview

Astrantia major is a herbaceous perennial also known by the name masterwort. It is widespread across Europe and was introduced to the British Isles in the 16th Century. Commonly found in mountain meadows, grasslands, forests & clearings and close to streams. It produces palmately-divided, 3-5 lobed, green leaves in the spring. These are followed by branching stems bearing small pale white-pinkish bracts surrounding white-green flowers. These appear in early to midsummer and are attractively veined. Suits planting in flower beds and borders in a cottage or informal garden setting.

Common problems with Masterwort

May be attacked by powdery mildews. Prone to slugs and aphids.

How to harvest Masterwort

Cut flower heads for flower arrangements throughout the summer or to collect seeds, allow the heads to ripen, cut and hang upside down in a paper bag to collect the expelled seeds. Seeds can be collected when ripe and starting to dry.

How to propagate Masterwort


Sow when ripe or seeds require 3 months of cold stratification prior to germination. Advisable to plant them outside in early autumn, about 10mm deep.


Divide clumps in spring.

Special features of Masterwort

Attracts useful insects

Attracts hoverflies, which feed off aphids, and Trichogramma wasps, which help reduce caterpillar hatching.

Attractive flowers

Colour ranges from white, through pink and purple, to a deep red in some cultivars.

Other uses of Masterwort

Naturaliser, cutting bed, dried arrangements, borders, under shrubs. Summer interest.

Cut flower

Popular cut flower.