Epimedium – Bishop’s Hat, Barrenwort
After reading the description of the Epimedium by Miss M. R. Case in “Horticulture,” we have decided to abandon all hopes of describing this dainty flower in our own crude words. She writes:
“Blossoming under a great Oak, where Maidenhair and Dicksonia ferns grow to perfection, is a dainty herb from Japan known as the Bishop’s Hat, from the square, flat shape of its blossoms. “The blossoms are in loose sprays which branch off from the main stems l inches below where the main stem divides into the three sprays which bear the leaves. They come in buff or soft yellow, mauve and white. The one which has done the best at Hillcrest, Epimedium macranthum, gives the bishop a yellow lining to his dark red hat. It is well arranged for his grace’s comfort, as under the square, flat hat is a little cap to hold it well in place. It is so pretty a hat that we hope it is in the ritual of the floral world for it to be worn in the ceremonies of their service.
“The loose spray of blossoms is 6 inches long from where it branches from the main stem. The whole plant is more than a foot in height; the single flower about the size of a dime. The pretty redbuds are on the spray with the flowers.
“The leaves are a soft yellow green, parallel veined and pointed at the apex. The main stem divides into three sprays for the leaves. The whole plant has an airy, unusual and very pleasing effect. The old leaves persist on the stems through the Winter and have to be gathered with the Spring litter from the gardens.
“It should not be confused with the Bishop’s Cap, Mitrewort or Mitella, which more nearly resembles the Tiarella or Foam Flower. His Grace, the Bishop, is well adorned in Puritan New England.”
Some of the species are E. alpinum, with gray, crimson and yellow flowers; E. macranthum, with lilac flowers; E. niveum, with white flowers, and E. Musschianum, with golden yellow blossoms.
UTILIZE. There is probably no other flower which lasts so long in water as do the Bishop’s Hats. If they are picked close to the ground when the leaves are mature, they will last at least two months in water. They are good for pot plants and for the border where they should really be planted in masses in order that their delicate flowers may be appreciated. They are excellent plants for the rockery.
GENERAL. They prefer a moist, sandy loam and partial shade. If planted in the rockery, they must not get too dry. The soil should not be disturbed around them at any time, as it injures the roots.
PROPAGATION. They are propagated by dividing the roots. This can be done in either Fall or Spring.