Epimedium barrenwort

(eh-pe-mee' dee-um)

Common name: Barrenwort

Family: Berberidaceae, Barberry

Height x width: 6-15" x 8-18"

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: compound (leaves with 2 groups of three), green, often tinged reddish in spring and in fall yellow, bronze or red

Flowers: four petals, four outer small sepals, four colored inner sepals often spurred or hooded

Hardiness: 4 or 5 to 7 or 8

Soil: prefers moist organic, tolerates dry

Light: prefers part shade, tolerates shade

Pests and problems: few

Landscape habit, uses: dry shade under trees, moist woodland, front of beds

Other interest: often called Bishop's Hat or Mitre from spurred sepal effect

Other culture: need good drainage, protect from strong winds

Propagation: division anytime although late spring after flowering is best


acumintum(a-kew-mi-nah' tum)--zones 5-8, 12-15" x 15", pinkish spring flowers, large dark green leaves long and pointed (acuminate) at tips

alpinum(al-pine' um)--Alpine Barrenwort, zones 4-7, 12" x 12", dull red spring flowers in 12-20 flowered raceme above leaves, parent of many hybrids, good ground cover

brachyrrhizum(brac-ee-rii' zum)--zones 5-8, 6-8" x 8", large 2" across rose pink flowers, leaves rose-purple mottled early and dark green later in season, evergreen in mild climates, rare from China in 1994

x cantabrigiense(can-tah-bridge-ee-ence')--similar to alpinum, hybrid of this and pubigerum, glossy leaves, creamy white flowers, 1-2' tall, 9-leaflet leaves

davidii(david' ee-ii)--12-24" x 12", yellowish spring flowers with curved spurs, leaflets bluish below, tufted and slowly creeping

diphyllum(di-phil' um)--zones 5-8, 8-12" x 12", white or rarely purplish flowers in early spring, evergreen with 2 leaflets, prefers moist woodland

elongatum(ee-long-aa' tum)--zones 5-8, 12-15" x 12 ", yellow-spurred flowers, 3 spiny-edged leaflets per leaf, perfers woodland

epsteinii(ep-stein' ee-ii)--zones 5-8, 6-8" x 12", wide 1/2" pure white sepals with reddish-purple spurs and cup, 10-30 flowers per stem, forms dense groundcover, winter mulch in zone 5

franchetii(fran-shet' ee-ii)--zones 5-8, 18-24" x 15", long sulphur yellow spurs and light green inner sepals, leaves to 6" long and 3" wide, evergreen in mild climates, winter mulch in zone 5

grandiflorum(gran-deh-floor' um)--Longspur Barrenwort, zones 5-8, 12" x 15", pale pink spring flowers with white outer sepals, pale yellow inner ones and rose or violet petals with 1/2" conspicuous spur, 1' long leaves with spiny-toothed 2-3" long leaflets beige-brown in early spring, doesn't tolerate alkaline soils

leptorrhizum(lep-tor-rhi' zum)--similar to grandiflorum only low growing, leathery evergreen leaves, large rose-red flowers

myrianthum(mir-ee-an' thum)--related to sagittatum, often 100 flowers per stem, dark green and glossy leaves are mottled with rose

perralderianum(pear-ral-der-e-a' num)--zones 5-8, 10-12" x 12", 20-25 yellow spring flowers in an unbranched inflorescence, 3 spiny-edged leaflets per leaf light green early and red-brown later

pinnatum(pin-na' tum)--zones 5-8, 8-12" x 12", 12-30 bright yellow flowered inflorescence in late spring, 5 or more hairy leaflets especially when young, leaves arise directly from roots

pubigerum(poo-bee-ger' um)--zones 5-8, 12" x 12", creamy-white spring flowers, leathery leaves

x rubrum(rub-rum')--Red Barrenwort, zones 5-8, 8-12" x 12", 15-20 red spring flowered-inflorescence, crimson-red inner sepals and pale yellow petals, hybrid of alpinum and grandiflorum, heart-shaped leaflets red-tinged in fall and cool summers, fast groundcover

sagittatum(sadge-e-ta' tum)--zones 5-8, 16-20" tall, tight clump with erect flower stems

sempervirens(sem-per-veer' ens)--zones 5-8, 16" tall x 12", pure white flowers, large leaves, evergreen in mild climates

setosum(seh-toe' sum)--similar to x youngianum, small star-shaped white flowers in early spring, low, lime green leaves in early spring

x versicolor(ver' seh-color)-Bicolor Barrenwort, grandiflorum and pinnatum subsp. colchicum cross, 9 leaflets red-mottled when young, light rose sepals with yellow petals and reddish spurs, earlier flowers than most other species

x warleyense(war-lee-yense')--similar to alpinum, dull green leaves, coppery-red inner sepals with yellow petals

x youngianum(young-ee-aa' num)--zones 5-8, 6-8" x 8", pinkish-white spring 3-8 pendulous-flowered inflorescence, 2-9 leaflets, deciduous, slow-growing, cultivars better and more common

Cultivars, other taxa species flowers other
'Album' grandiflorum creamy white  
'Aurora' sempervirens dark lavender, large 6-9" tall
'Bandit' grandiflorum white compact
'Capella' x youngianum dark rose, long bloom 10" tall Cobblewood Form
x rubrum pinkish red sepals, creamy spurs 16" tall  
subsp. colchicum pinnatum bright yellow, larger than species 12" tall
'Cupreum' x versicolor bright orange to rosy yellow like Versicolor
'Frohnleiten' x perralchicum yellow (often red centers) 10" tall, excellent
'Harold Epstein' grandiflorum butter yellow subsp. koreanum
var. higonse grandiflorum clean white compact 
'Koji' grandiflorum light violet 10" tall
subsp. koreanum grandiflorum creamy yellow, long spurs sparse flowers
x 'Kuguyahime' acuminatum pink/purple bronze fall foliage
'Lilafee' grandiflorum lilac  
'Liliputian' grandiflorum white 6" tall
'Merlin' x youngianum brownish purple  
'Milky Way': 'Niveum' x youngianum    
'N.A. White' x youngianum white 5-8" tall
'Nanum' diphyllum white, spurless 4-8" tall
'Nanum' grandiflorum creamy 4-6" tall
'Neosulphureum' x versicolor light to dark yellow like Sulphureum
'Niveum' ('Milky Way') x youngianum white, small common
'Orangekoenigin' x warleyense orange 10" tall
'Orion' grandiflorum deep rose 15" tall
'Rose Queen' grandiflorum rose, long white-tipped spurs crimson leaves
'Roseum' x youngianum rose or pinkish lilac  
'Rubrum' alpinum red inner sepals, yellow petals vigorous
'Shrimp Girl' alpinum red inner sepals, yellow petals 8" tall
'Silver Queen' grandiflorum silver-white, rosy inner sepals 8-12" tall
'Sulphureum' x versicolor light to dark yellow, leafy stems usually evergreen
'Versicolor' x versicolor bright orange- to rosy-yellow often deciduous
f. violaceum grandiflorum brownish violet bronze leaf veins
'We-Du Special' grandiflorum light rose 12" tall
'White Queen' grandiflorum silvery-white like Rose Queen
'Wisley'  x perralchicum yellow (often red centers) like Frohnleiten
'Wudang Star' stellulatum white inner sepals, orange petals evergreen, veining
'Yenomoto' x youngianum white, larger and rounder like Niveum


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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