Bishop’s Hat

3 Mar

Bishop’s Hat (Epimedium), 12 – 18 in., orchid-like flowers in various colors, evergreen to semi deciduous, good as cut flower, best with some water but drought tolerant when established.

Low growers with creeping underground stems. Thin, wiry leafstalks hold leathery leaves divided into heart-shaped leaflets 3–4 in. long. Foliage is bronzy pink in spring, green in summer, bronze in fall; even in deciduous species, leaves last late into the year. In spring, plants bear loose spikes of small, waxy flowers in pink, red, creamy yellow, or white. The flowers have four petals, which may be spurred or hooded, and eight sepals–four inner ones resembling petals and four (usually small) outer ones.

Use as ground cover under trees or among rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias; set out plants 1 ft. apart. Good in large rock gardens, containers. Tolerate heavy shade. Foliage and flowers are long lasting in arrangements. Cut back in late winter before new growth resumes.

Epimedium grandiflorum is from China, Korea, Japan. Deciduous epimedium to about 1 ft. high. Relatively large blooms (to 2 in. across) are shaped like a bishop’s mitre, with red outer sepals, pale violet inner sepals, and white petals with long spurs. There are varieties with white, pinkish, or violet flowers

Epimedium pinnatum from northern Iran, grows to 8–12 in. high, with nearly evergreen foliage. Flowers have yellow sepals and very short reddish brown spurs.

Epimedium x rubrum – this semi-evergreen hybrid between E. alpinum and E. grandiflorum grows to 1 ft. high. Flowers, borne in showy clusters, have crimson inner sepals, pale yellow or white petals, and upward-curving spurs.


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