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Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum

Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum



About this cultivar:

Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum makes an excellent groundcover, filling an area so densely that it prevents weeds from becoming established.

The species, Epimedium pinnatum, is a rhizomatous, clump-forming, evergreen to semi evergreen perennial. It is native to woodland areas of the Caucasus (subsp. pinnatum from regions near the Caspian Sea and subsp. colchicum from regions near the Black Sea). Showy flowers feature bright yellow petal-like inner sepals, red spurs, and minute brownish petals. Flowers bloom in spring in terminal racemes  atop leafless flowering stems. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word pinnatus meaning feathered in probable reference to leaf shape.

This particular selection, subsp. colchicum, grows slightly taller, spreads more slowly, has larger flowers and often produces toothless leaflets. It is noted for dense, spreading mounds of compound foliage (occasionally copper-ish when young, and reddish in winter) and for a spring bloom of outward-facing, bright yellow flowers with yellow or brown spurs.

The name colchicum derives from Colchis, the Ancient Greek name for the region of Kolkhida in modern Georgia (Caucasus). Colchis features in Greek mythology as the land to which the Argonauts journeyed in quest of the golden fleece and where Jason encountered Medea. Synonymous with E. pinnatum subsp. elegans.

Tough! Has the RHS AGM.

  • Position: Full shade, partial shade, full shade
  • Soil: Almost any soil, grows well in Ballyrobert
  • Flowers: March, April, May
  • Other features: Grows well in Ballyrobert, Great Ground Cover, Dappled Shade or Full Shade Loving, Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM), Interesting Foliage or Fruit
  • Hardiness: H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20°C), Fully hardy - grows well in Ballyrobert!
  • Habit: Clump forming
  • Foliage: semi evergreen
  • Height: 30 - 45 cm (1 - 1.5 ft)
  • Spread: 45 - 75 cm (1.5 - 2.5 ft)
  • Time to full growth: 2 to 5 years
  • Plant type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Colour: Green, yellow
  • Goes well with: -

    About this genus:

    Epimedium has many common names such as barrenwort, bishop's hat, fairy wings, horny goat weed, rowdy lamb herb, randy beef grass or yin yang huo (Chinese of course). No prizes then for guessing its traditional medicinal uses! A member of the barberry family, the genus was given its Botanical name by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, derived from a Greek word for a different plant, epimedion. The vast bulk of Epimedium species are deciduous or evergreen hardy perennials. 

    Easy-to-grow - they will grow anywhere that isn't a pond. Despite being best known as a full shade plant many will also grow in full sun ( see the photo of the cultivars we have in pots!).

    Epimedium welcome spring with delicate airy flowers. Following which a solid backdrop of attractive foliage appears and remains for the rest of the season. Flowers range from white to red to yellow to pink, and the foliage shows some variation between cultivars and the seasons; green to brown to purple. A versatile plant!

    In the garden Epimedium will rarely make the casual observer stop and stare but these shade lovers are essential in many gardens. Epimedium are most often used either as woodland garden specimens or ground cover for small shady areas - but don't let that stop you using them in all sorts of places, even rock gardens. We find they make great impact as ground cover - full shade or full sun!