Epimedium alpinum
Common Name: bishop's hat 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Southern Europe
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Red/yellow
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers loose, organically rich loams with even moisture in part shade. Tolerates drought once established. Rhizomatous perennial which spreads more rapidly than most other epimediums. Cut back any remaining old foliage in late winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Epimedium alpinum, sometimes commonly called alpine barrenwort, is a dense, rhizomatous, clump-forming perennial which typically grows 6-9" tall and is primarily used as a ground cover or edger in shady or woodland areas. Dull red flowers (red sepals and yellow petals) in 12-20 flowered racemes appear in spring above the foliage. Compound, medium green leaves with pointed, heart-shaped leaflets (to 3" long) appear on wiry stems and form attractive foliage mounds. New leaves in spring emerge with a pink tinge, mature to green and turn deep reddish bronze in fall.

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

Specific epithet means alpine.


No serious insect or disease problems.


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. Grows well under trees. Edger for paths and walkways.