Low-growing plants that spread by creeping underground stems. Thin, wiry leafstalks hold leathery leaves divided into heart-shaped leaets 34 in. long. Foliage is bronzy pink in spring, green in summer, bronzy in fall. Even in deciduous types, leaves last late into the year. In spring, plants produce loose spikes of small, waxy owers like tiny columbines (Aquilegia) in pink, red, red-orange, creamy yellow, or white. The owers have four petals, which may be spurred or hooded, and eight sepalsfour inner
ones resembling petals and four (usually small) outer ones.
Use as ground cover under trees or among rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias; outstanding choice for dry shade. Compete well with surface-rooted trees. Prefer partial shade but tolerate heavy shade. Foliage and owers are long lasting in arrangements. Cut back foliage of semievergreen and deciduous types in late winter before bloom. Divide large clumps in spring or fall by severing tough roots with a sharp spade. Adaptable to containers. Not browsed by deer.
E. alpinum. ALPINE EPIMEDIUM. Evergreen. From southern Europe. Spreads fast; grows 69 in. high. Flowers to 1 in. across, with red inner sepals and yellow petals.
E. 'Amber Queen'. Grows 2 ft. tall and wide in bloom with bright yellow flowers accented in orange-red.
E. x cantabrigiense. Semievergreen. To 812 in. high, with olive-tinted foliage and 12-in. yellow-and-red owers.
E. 'Cherry Blossom'. Vivid pink flowers hover at 18 in. over a 3 ft. wide mass of green foliage.
E. 'Domino'. Growing 2 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide. Each white flower has a burgundy center, echoing the maroon stem and mottling on the leaves.
E. grandiorum. BISHOP'S HAT, LONGSPUR EPIMEDIUM. Deciduous. From China, Korea, Japan. About 1 ft. high. Flowers 12 in. across, shaped like a bishop's miter; they have red outer sepals, pale violet inner sepals, white petals with long spurs. Selections have white, pinkish, or violet owers. 'Rose Queen', bearing crimson owers with white-tipped spurs, is outstanding. 'White Queen', with silvery white blooms, is another good selection.
E. x perralchicum. Evergreen hybrid between E. perral-derianum and E. pinnatum colchicum. Grows 16 in. high; bears 34-in., yellow flowers. Yellow blooms of 'Frohnleiten' (leaves marked with brown in frosty weather)and yellow-and-bronze ones of 'Wisley' are 1 in. across.
E. perralderianum. From North Africa. To 1 ft. tall, with shiny evergreen leaves and 34-in., bright yellow flowers.
E. pinnatum. Nearly evergreen. From northern Africa. To 1215 in. high. Flowers are in. across and have bright yellow inner sepals and short red spurs. E.p. colchicum (often sold as E. p. elegans) is larger, has showier owers.
E. 'Pretty in Pink'. Peaks at 18 in. with raspberry flowers and spreads to a 3-ft.-wide mound of red-green, mottled, heart-shaped leaves.
E. x rubrum. RED EPIMEDIUM. Semievergreen. A hybrid of E. alpinum and E. grandiorum. To 1 ft. high. Flowers, to 1 in. across, are borne in showy clusters, have bright crimson inner sepals, white or pale yellow slipperlike petals, upward-curving spurs. Among the best selections offered by specialty nurseries are rosy 'Pink Queen'; white 'Snow Queen'; and 'Sweetheart', with large, sturdy leaves and pinkish flowers sporting creamy white spurs.
E. x versicolor. YELLOW EPIMEDIUM. Semievergreen. Several hybrids of E. grandiflorum and E. pinnatum bear this name. Best-known selection is vigorous 'Sulphureum', a 12- to 20-in. plant with clusters of light yellow, -in.-wide flowers and leaves marked with brownish red.
E. x warleyense. Evergreen. To 1 ft. high. Light green foliage; clusters of coppery orange-red, -in. flowers. Also known as E. 'Ellen Wilmott'. 'Orangeknigin' spreads more slowly and has flowers in a softer shade of orange.
E. x youngianum. Deciduous. Hybrid derived from E. grandiflorum; grows to 810 in. high, bears -in.-wide flowers in palest pink. Leaves often have wavy margins. The most common selection sold is 'Niveum', with pure white blossoms; 'Yenomoto' is similar but bears larger flowers.