Epimedium latisepalum
Common Name: bishop's hat
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White with purple tinged bases
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, 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 south of USDA Zone 7 but basically deciduous in the St. Louis area. As needed, 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 latisepalum is noted for its large, nodding, spurred, white flowers and narrow evergreen leaflets. It is a rhizomatous perennial that typically grows on wiry stems to form a foliage clump rising to 12" tall. It is native to China (Sichuan Province). Large, showy, nodding, creamy white flowers (2" across) bloom in loose few-flowered inflorescences (typically to 8 flowers per inflorescence) in spring (April-May) atop flowering stems rising above the foliage to 16" tall. Petals are white with purple-tinged bases, horn-shaped slightly arching spurs are white, and horizontally spreading inner sepals (shorter than petals) are white. Much shorter outer sepals are green but drop at the time of flowering. Leaves are basal and cauline. Each flowering stem bears two opposite trifoliate leaves. Narrow, leathery, ovate deep green leaflets (each to 4" long) have hairy undersides, spiny marginal teeth, cordate bases (bases of lateral leaflets significantly unequal) and short acuminate or acute tips. New leaves in spring emerge with reddish-brown spotting, but mature to medium to dark green.

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

Specific epithet comes from the Latin words latus meaning broad and sepalum meaning sepal in reference to the broad inner sepals of this flower.

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. This flower is rare in its native habitat and may be difficult to find in commerce.

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.