Epimedium × cantabrigiense

Common Name: bishop's hat 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Garden origin
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow with pink tinge
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moisture-retentive, organically rich loams in part shade. Tolerates some drought once established, including dry shade. For growing as a ground cover, site starter plants to 12” apart. Plants are evergreen to semi-evergreen. In the St. Louis area, it is best to cut back foliage in early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Epimedium × cantabrigiense is a hybrid cross of garden origin between E. alpinum and E. pubigerum. It was discovered in 1950 growing in a garden at St. John's College in Cambridge, England. It is a rhizomatous perennial that forms an attractive, spreading, foliage mound of compound, glossy, medium green leaves. Foliage rises on wiry stems to 1-1.5' tall, but spreads to 3' wide. Spurless, yellow flowers (1/2" wide) with pink tinges bloom in spring (April and May) on stems rising above the foliage to as much as 24" tall. Each compound leaf has 7-17 ovate leaflets (to 3" long). Leaves are copper-tinted in spring, medium green throughout summer and bronze-tinted in fall.

Genus name is of unclear origin and meaning but the Greeks used epimedion for a very different plant.

Specific epithet comes from the name of the old Anglo-Saxon settlement called Cantebrigie which, over time, became the town known today as Cambridge.

Epimediums have a number of common names, including bishop’s hat, bishop’s mitre, barrenwort and fairy wings.


Watch for aphids. Mosaic virus.


This hybrid forms an attractive ground cover for shady areas of the landscape. It is a good selection for dry shade. Mass in woodland gardens, wild gardens or naturalized areas. Also effective in partially shaded areas of rock gardens and border fronts and foundations. Grows well under trees. Edger for paths and walkways.