Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum

28 Apr

Epimedium pinnatum elegans Leaf (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum Leaf (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Partial shade

Flowering Period: Spring

Soil: Well drained, moist

Eventual Height: 50cm

Eventual Spread: 50cm

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

Family: Berberidaceae

Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum is an evergreen spreading herbaceous perennial. Its dark green leaves are opposite, cordate with spiny margins and a smooth texture. Its leaves are flushed red/ bronze when young. Its yellow flowers are cross shaped, up to 15mm across, are arranged in racemes  and appear like sprays above the foliage. The fruit of the plant is a small follicle. The roots of the plant are woody rhizomatous.

Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum, is commonly known as Colchian Barrenwort and Bishop’s Mitre, is native to north east Turkey. It was introduced into the UK in 1849. Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum is synonymous with Epimedium pinnatum elegans.

Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Epimedium is derived from the Greek name for this plant, used by Dioscorides and Pliny.  Pinnatum is derived from the Latin pinnatus ‘feathered’,  possibly in reference to the shape of the leaves. Colchicum is derived from the Latin and is named after the Black Sea port, Colchis.

The landscape architect may find Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum useful as an effective ground cover plant, particularly in shady, dry locations. It is effective when planted en mass 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.

Ecologically,  Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum is attractive to pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

 Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers acid to neutral soils.

Epimedium pinnatum ssp colchicum requires little maintenance. Leaves may be cut back in spring before the new leaves emerge to give a tidy appearance. Large clumps may be divided in autumn or after flowering.

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