Epimedium stellulatum
Common Name: bishop's hat
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
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. In areas where plants are not evergreen, 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 stellulatum, commonly called bishop’s hat, fairy wings or short-root barrenwort, is a low-growing, short-rhizomed, clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 10-14” tall. It is native to wooded slopes in central China where it was discovered and first described in 1983. Each flowering stem is clad with two trifoliolate leaves featuring long, shield-shaped, spiny-toothed, cordate-based, narrow-ovate leaflets (to 4” long) which are bristle-tipped at each serration. Star-like white flowers (to 1/2” long), each with 4 outward-spreading petaloid sepals with a contrasting clump of showy yellow center stamens, bloom in 20-40 flowered panicles in spring (April-May) on wiry stems rising above the foliage. Flowers purportedly resemble fairy wings rather than the prominently-spurred, spider-like flowers found on some species of Epimedium.

Leaves are typically semi-evergreen to evergreen in warm winter climates, but foliage usually becomes brown and tattered in cold winter climates.

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

Specific epithet comes from the Latin stellula meaning small star.

Epimediums are also commonly called bishop’s hat or bishop's mitre (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.