Growing Guide
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Barrenwort, Longspur

Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Ground Cover

Also known as Bishop's hat
Epimedium grandiflorum
Berberidaceae Family
Synonym: Epimedium macranthum

The largest of the barrenworts, bears pink, yellow, white or purple flowers that resemble columbines, and has golden-brown foliage in spring. Makes a great groundcover for shady, moist areas, but unlike red barrenwort declines after frost.

Site Characteristics
  • part shade
  • full shade

Soil conditions:

  • requires acid soil
  • tolerates droughty soil
  • requires well-drained soil
  • tolerates damp soil
  • requires high fertility
Once established, tolerates dry soils (for example, under trees where moisture competition is high), but prefers moist soil.

Hardiness zones:

  • 4 to 8
May be only marginally hardy in Zone 4.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 0.25 to 1.5 feet

Spread: 0.5 to 1.5 feet

Keeps spreading by rhizomes.

Bloom time:

  • mid-spring
  • late spring

Flower color:

  • yellow
  • violet
  • white
  • pink

Foliage color:

  • medium green
  • other

Young leaves may be tinted bronze or purple

Foliage texture: medium


  • cushion, mound or clump
  • spreading mass

Shape in flower: flower stalks with flowers hanging downward

Flowers borne along erect, branching stems.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to China, North Korea and Japan
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by division or separation - Divide in the spring before plants flower or in late summer or early fall after leaves are mature.

Maintenance and care:
Unlike red barrenwort, plants decline after frost and fade completely overwinter. So shearing in spring is seldom necessary.

Add large amounts of organic matter to the soil before planting and water when dry.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

Vine weevil
Mosaic virus
Epimedium grandiflorum f. flavescens (Epimedium koreanum) bears pale yellow blooms. Native to Korea.

Epimedium grandiflorum f. violaceum ('Violaceum') bears violet and white blooms.

'Crimson Beauty' has young leaves marked with bronze and bears bronze-tinted blooms.

'Lilafee' ('Lilac Fairy') grows 8 inches tall with violet-tinted leaves and bears violet blooms.

'Nanum' grows just 3 inches tall, bears cream-colored flowers and has brown leaf margins

'Rose Queen' bears rosy-pink blooms with long white-tipped spurs and has young leaves that are tinted purple or bronze.

'White Queen' ('Album') has large white blooms.