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Perennials: Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'

Botanical name: Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'

Common name: large-flowered barrenwort

also known as (bishop's hat, fairy wings, longspur barrenwort, Epimedium macranthum)

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Photo credit: Siegelgirl
Perennials: Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'
Perennials: Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'
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Brooklyn, Ny

at a glance

Soil: dry, acidic, sand
Zones: 5a thru 8b

fall interest, bee attracting, drought tolerant

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description for "Perennials: Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'"

'Lilafee' large-flowered barrenwort produces little frilled lavender-violet bells in April or early May before the charming heart–shaped foliage emerges, to 8". Wonderful short ground cover in dry shade, needs weekly water to establish but drought tolerant with maturity. These lilac-purple flowers look like spider-legged tadpoles with yellow throats, swimming over small leaves. The leaves emerge slender, heart-shaped in green & maroon-brown. By the time the flowers are finished, the leaves have become quite large with the broader bishop's hat shape, in darker olive green with or without reddish webbing. These leaves change quite a bit through the year, & gain a red coppery sheen in autumn. Most barrenworts are grown for the gorgeous leaves more than for the flowers, but some of them have quite extraordinary flowers as well, & 'Lilafee' is one such, having larger blooms with a very impactful color. The regular species has white rather than lilac blooms, also of larger than average size. It will thrive in shade or sunlight in moist well-drained soil, & is particularly pleasant underneath shrubs. It's usually only about ten inches tall, but over time may hump up to a taller clump. Old clumps become surprisingly drought tolerant. It spreads slowly by rhizomes, but in three or four years will have a considerable spread, & can be divided in autumn if a gardener wants some starts to put elsewhere or give away. Some epimediums are deciduous but this one is evergreen. It'll look scruffy by winter's end & at some point will need to be trimmed back, preferably before new growth begins. Hardy for zones five through eight, it will not prove its evergreen capacity at the colder edge of its range, but will otherwise be just as pleasing. [Source:] -- edited by dtd siegelgirl


The species grows wild over a very broad range from the Mediterranean through Central Asia & into China. In China & Japan it is widely regarded as a magic cure for most male & some female complaints, including liver dysfunction (brought about by alcoholism), all effects of old age, & in particular, impotence.

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