Vancouveria hexandra
Common Name: American barrenwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Western United States
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy

Culture

Easily grown in cool, organically rich, acidic, consistently moist, well-drained loams in part shade to full shade. Plants perform poorly in hot and dry summers. Protect from drying winds. Propagate by rhizome division. For growth as a ground cover, site starter plants to 10-12” apart.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Vancouveria hexandra, commonly called American barrenwort or inside-out flower, is a rhizomatous, basal-leaved, woodland perennial that grows to 12-18" tall with a spread to 12" wide or more. It slowly forms over time a ground cover reminiscent of some epimediums. It is native to moist coastal woodland areas on the western side of the Cascades from Washington to Northern California. Plants feature ternate to twice ternate basal leaves, with each leaf having 9-15, thin, pale green to blue-green, 3-lobed, heart-shaped leaflets (to 1 1/2" long). Drooping white flowers (each to 1/2" long), each with 6 petals and 6 sepals, bloom in an open panicle of 10-30 nodding flowers atop a leafless stem rising above the foliage in late spring to early summer (May-July). Petals and sepals are swept backwards, hence the common name of inside-out flower. Fruit has no ornamental interest.

Genus name honors Captain George Vancouver, Royal Navy (1758-1798), British explorer.

Specific epithet is in reference to the six stamens.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Small area ground cover or edger for cool moist 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.