Epimedium alpinum

4 Feb

Epimedium alpinum leaf (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium alpinum leaf (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Partial to full shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Well rained

Eventual Height: 50cm

Eventual Spread: 50cm

Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a

Family: Berberidaceae

Epimedium alpinum is an evergreen/ semi-evergreen, spreading herbaceous perennial. Its glossy green leaves are ovate, heart shaped, oppositely arranged with spiny margins. The leaves are lime green when the emerge in spring darkening as they mature.  The flowers of the plant are cruciform flowers, with red inner sepals and yellow petals. They are arranged in racemes of up yo 20 flowers. The fruits are follicles, with many seeded fruit formed from one carpel. This plant spreads by underground rhizomes.

Epimedium alpinum, commonly known as Bishop’s Hat, Barrenwort, Bishop’s Mitre, and Fairy Wings, is native to south Europe. It was described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus.

The etymological root of the binomial name Epimedium is derived from the Greek name for this plant, used by Dioscorides and Pliny. Alpinum is derived from the Latin meaning ‘of upland or mountainous regions’, in reference to the Alps.

Epimedium alpinum (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium alpinum (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Epimedium alpinum useful as an effective ground cover plant, particularly in shady locations. It is effective when planted en mass around the base of existing mature trees. It may be used to stabilise soil on banks. This plant is not attractive to deers and rabbits. It is drought tolerant once established.

Ecologically Epimedium alpinum is of little value in the UK.

Epimedium alpinum prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Epimedium alpinum requires little maintenance. Old foliage may be cut back in late winter for a tidy appearance. Large clumps of this plant may be divided in autumn. 

Davis Landscape Architecture

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