Epimedium × perralchicum 'Frohnleiten'
Common Name: barrenwort
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
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

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers loose, slightly acidic, organically rich, humusy loams with even moisture in part shade. Tolerates drought once established. Site in locations protected from cold, dry winds. For growing as a ground cover, site starter plants to 12” apart. Plants are evergreen to semi-evergreen. In the St. Louis area, foliage may be cut back in early spring if significant winter damage has occurred.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Epimedium is a genus of about 21 species of low-growing, rhizomatous perennial herbs featuring compound leaves (2 or 3 leaflets each) and spikes of waxy textured white, pink, red or yellow flowers. Epimediums have a number of common names, including barrenwort, bishop’s hat, bishop’s mitre or fairy wings.

Epimedium x perralchicum is a hybrid cross between E. perralderianum and E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum. It is a rhizomatous, clump-forming perennial that typically grows 6-12” tall but spreads to 12-18” wide or more. It forms an attractive ground cover for shady areas. It is particularly noted for producing clusters of bright yellow flowers in spring and attractive spiny green leaves that are bronze-marbled in spring and fall. Each leaf is divided into elongated, ovate, heart-shaped leaflets (to 3" long). New leaves on wiry stems emerge green-marbled-with-bronze in spring, but gradually turn green by summer. Bronze marbling reappears in autumn. Bright yellow flowers (to 1” wide) in airy clusters bloom in spring on stems rising slightly above the foliage mound.

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

Hybrid name is a combination of parts of the parent's scientific names: perral and chicum.

Common name of bishop’s hat refers to the purported resemblance of the 4-pointed flower to the clergyman’s biretta. Common name of barrenwort refers to a root extract from the plant that was once believed to prevent conception when administered to women.

‘Frohnleiten’ is a compact 4-6” tall cultivar which was introduced from the German nursery of Heinz Klose. It is distinguished by its brighter yellow flower color and its bloom location which is slightly higher above the foliage mound.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Mosaic virus is a potential disease of concern.

Garden Uses

Small area ground cover or edger for shady areas. 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.