bishop’s hat ‘Sulphureum’

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ (bishop’s hat or barrenwort ‘Sulphureum’), a plant that brings terrific multiple season interest to the garden. A member of the Berberidaceae, plants grow up to 1 ft. tall with a mounding and rhizomatous spreading habit.

Epimedium x versicolor grows best in shade to part-shade planted in slightly moist, rich organic soils. The plant’s growth habit and shade tolerance means it is perfect for use as a woodland garden ground cover.

Epimedium x versicolor is one of the earliest-flowering barrenworts, producing flowers in early spring (March-April). Flowers are yellow and borne on wiry stems. Individual flowers are actually multicolored–sepals are pale yellow, petals are bright yellow, and nectar spurs are deep yellow. Leaves are compound with 5-11 cordate (heart shaped) leaflets. Leaves emerge with red mottling in the spring, transition to medium green throughout the summer, and turn deep red in the winter. Leaves of E. x versicolor are mostly wintergreen.

You may have noted the use of “x” between the botanical genus and specific epithet names for this barrenwort. This indicates the plant’s hybrid status–originating from a cross between E. grandiflorum and E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum. The hybrid E. x versicolor exhibits the larger flower size of E. grandiflorum, and the vigorous growth and floriferous nature of E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum. ‘Sulphureum’ was selected from this hybrid for its ease of establishment, wintergreen nature, and reliable flower production.

Botanical Name
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’
Common Name bishop’s hat ‘Sulphureum’
Family Berberidaceae
USDA Zone 5 thru 9
Light Requirement Part Shade to Shade
Season(s) of interest Spring, Summer, Fall
Height and Spread
1ft x 1.5ft (30.48cm x 45.72cm)
Flower Color Yellow
Attracts Wildlife
Additional Information
Horticultural origin. Also known as barrenwort ‘Sulphureum’.
Location in Lurie Garden Southeast Dark Plate