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Plant Profile: Alpine Barrenwort (Epimedium alpinum)

Epimedium alpinum RubrumA native of southern and central Europe, alpine barrenwort is a low growing herbaceous perennial that forms attractive clumps of foliage. The medium green leaves are compound and each leaflet is heart-shaped with a pointed tip, and up to three inches long. The leaves have a pink tinge when they emerge in spring, mature to green, and take on a red tinge in the fall. Clusters of twelve to twenty flowers are produced in loose racemes above the foliage in spring. The sepals are dull red and the petals are pale yellow and slipper shaped. The plant is rhizomateous and spreads more quickly than most other epimediums.  The cultivar ‘Rubrum, has brighter red sepals and brighter yellow petals. Apline barrenwort makes an excellent groundcover or edger for a shady area. The common name barrenwort comes from the belief that drinking extracts of the plant causes infertility.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Epimedium alpinumBloom: Clusters of twelve to twenty dull red and yellow flowers in loose racemes appear in spring

Size: 6-9” H c 12” W

Light: Part shade

Soil: Prefers humusy, fertile, dry to medium, well-drained; drought tolerant when established

Hardiness: Zones: 3-8

Care: Cut back foliage in late winter to appreciate flowers

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Fresh seed, division in fall

Companion plants: Vancouveria chrysantha, Vancouveria planipetala, Dicentra Formosa (western bleeding heart), Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon’s seal), Mahonia nervosa (low Oregon grape)