Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’

22 Feb

Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ (21/01/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 45cm

Eventual Spread: 90cm

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

Family: Berberidaceae

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ is an evergreen/ semi-evergreen, spreading herbaceous perennial. Its lime green leaves are stiff and are heart shaped, these are flushed with red when they emerge in spring. The wiry stems are coloured red. The sulphur yellow flowers of the plant are cruciform, small and produced on leafless spikes in the springtime. This plant spreads by underground rhizomes.

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ is commonly known as Persian Barrenwort, Bishops Mitre and Yellow Fairy Wings. The species is a hybrid between Epimedium grandiflorum and Epimedium pinnatum colchicum.

The etymological root of the binomial name Epimedium is derived from the Greek name for this plant, used by Dioscorides and Pliny. Versicolour is derived from the Latin verto ‘change’ and color ‘colour’ in reference to the leaves. Sulphureum is in reference to the sulphur yellow flowers.

Epimedium x versicolor 'sulphureum' Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium x versicolor ‘sulphureum’ Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

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

Ecologically, Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ is of little value in the UK.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ requires little maintenance. Large clumps of this plant may be divided in late summer.

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