Epimedium lishihchenii
Common Name: bishop's hat
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 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: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers loose, organically rich loams with consistent moisture in part shade (sun-dappled or morning sun). Foliage will usually burn in full afternoon sun. Tolerates full shade. Also tolerates drought and dry shade (rhizomes hold moisture) once established. Intolerant of alkaline soils. Clumps spread somewhat slowly by creeping rhizomes, but will form attractive colonies over time. Foliage is evergreen with surprisingly good staying power in winters where temperatures do not fall below 10 degrees F. Plants will usually lose their foliage if temperatures dip below zero. Regardless of winter performance, it is still best to cut back any remaining old foliage in late winter prior to the emergence of the new growth. Propagate by division in early spring or fall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Epimedium lishihchenii is a rhizomatous evergreen perennial that typically grows on wiry stems to form a foliage clump rising to 12" tall. It is native to woodland slopes in central to southeastern China (Jiangxi Province). It features large, long-spurred, nodding, spider-type, yellow flowers (1 3/4" across) which bloom in spring (April-May) in few-flowered inflorescences (5-11 flowers per inflorescence) atop flowering stems which rise above the foliage mound to 16" tall. Leathery, glossy, evergreen, ovate to lanceolate leaflets (to 4" long) with spiny marginal teeth, acuminate tips and cordate bases emerge salmon-red in spring (interesting contrast with yellow flowers) before maturing to medium/dark green. Each flower has yellow inner sepals, pale yellow spurs and pale sulphur-yellow petals. Leaves are basal and cauline. Each flowering stem bears two opposite trifoliate leaves. New leaves emerge in spring with a bronze-red cast (contrasts well with flowers), but mature to medium to dark green. Leaves form attractive foliage mounds.

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

Specific epithet honors Li Shih-chen (1518-1593), Chinese naturalist. Very similar to Epimedium franchetii but has smaller leaflets.

Epimediums are commonly called bishop’s hat (four-spurred flowers of some species resemble a clergyman's biretta) or barrenwort (root extract was once believed to prevent female conception).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Mosaic virus (transmitted by aphids) is the main disease problem.

Garden Uses

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.