Epimedium sagittatum is a single species in the large epimedium genus known as barberry. Sagittatum is a perennial flowering plant native to China and thrives in USDA Zones 5 through 8. It grows up to 20 inches in height in a clumping form with upright heart-shaped foliage and upright flower stalks. It is planted as a ground cover and in beds, borders and woodland gardens. Epimedium sagittatum is also used in herbal remedies for its reputed aphrodisiac effects, hence its colloquial name of horny goat weed.
Epimedium sagittatum has pale green to slightly greenish-gold heart-shaped leaves. The leaves appear on the upright stems in groups of three. Sagittatum leaves deepen in color in the fall to yellow, bronze green or red before the plants die back to the ground in winter.
Epimedium acquired the common name bishop's hat from the unusual shape of its flowers that appear in spring. Each flower has four pointed triangular petals that are pale dusty pink, surrounded by four smaller outer petals or sepals in white and a second set of inner sepals that are curved and slightly arching, making them look like hoods in white or pale pink.
Epimedium sagittatum propagates itself vegetatively. It can be spread by digging and dividing the root mass in the late spring or early summer after flowering has concluded for the year. If you are not concerned about inhibiting bloom, division can be done in the early spring or fall.
Epimedum sagittatum thrives in nutrient rich soil that has a high organic content. Amend poor planting soil or top-dress established plantings each year with generous amounts of compost and/or well-aged manure. It performs best in filtered sunlight to light shade, and prefers moist soil though it can survive short periods of drought.
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