Barrenwort Epimedium pauciflorum

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
few-flowered barrenwort


Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as Bishop's Hat or Fairy Wings, is a perennial plant known for its distinct and attractive foliage and flowers. The leaves are usually compound, consisting of heart-shaped leaflets with spiny-toothed edges. These leaflets are often a rich green, though they may have a bronzy or reddish tinge as they emerge or during the fall. Over time, the leaves transform to a more uniform green color. The most remarkable feature of Bishop's Hat is its delicate flowers that bloom in spring. The blossoms appear on slender stems and are composed of outer sepals usually in muted tones of yellow, white, or lavender, which back the colorful spurs and inner petals. These inner petals, often in vibrant hues like yellow or purple, are small and cup-shaped, equipped with a distinctive spur that gives the flowers an intricate, fairy-like appearance. The contrast between the inner petals and the outer sepals with the additional spur provides a unique and whimsical look that is a highlight of this plant. The flower's whimsical appearance is further enhanced by their arrangement; they typically hover above the foliage in loose clusters, creating a striking display. When not in bloom, the foliage of Bishop's Hat maintains ornamental interest, offering a lush ground cover with its dense leaf arrangement. The visual interest of the plant is purely aesthetic in nature, as it does not mention its overall growth habit and spread.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Barrenwort, Bishop's Hat, Fairy Wings, Horny Goat Weed.

    • Common names

      Epimedium pauciflorum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as horny goat weed, is not widely recognized as a toxic plant to humans. There is limited information on its toxicity, and it is actually used in traditional medicine for various purposes. However, as with any herb or medicinal plant, it can cause side effects or adverse reactions in some individuals, especially when taken in excessive amounts. Potential side effects could include dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting. To avoid these, it is always recommended to follow proper dosage and consult with a healthcare provider before using it as a supplement.

    • To pets

      Horny goat weed, the common name for Epimedium pauciflorum, has limited research regarding its toxicity to pets. It is not commonly listed among plants that are toxic to dogs or cats. However, pets have different sensitivities and metabolisms compared to humans. While horny goat weed is not known to be a common cause of poisoning in pets, ingestion could potentially lead to gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. If you suspect your pet has ingested this plant, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to ensure the safety and health of your animal.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-1.5 feet (30-45 cm)

    • Spread

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Low Maintenance: Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as Bishop's Hat, requires minimal care once established, making it suitable for gardeners seeking low-maintenance plants.
    • Drought Tolerance: Bishop's Hat is known for its ability to withstand dry conditions, making it ideal for water-conserving landscapes or areas that experience periodic drought.
    • Ground Cover: With its spreading habit, Epimedium pauciflorum effectively covers the ground, helping to suppress weeds and reduce soil erosion.
    • Shade Tolerance: This plant thrives in partial shade, making it a good choice for underplanting or filling spaces in woodland gardens or shady borders.
    • Attractive Foliage: The leaves of Bishop's Hat are often heart-shaped with attractive patterns, adding aesthetic value to garden compositions even when not in bloom.
    • Spring Blossoms: The plant produces delicate flowers in the spring, which can add a subtle splash of color to the early-season garden.
    • Wildlife Friendly: The flowers of Epimedium pauciflorum can attract pollinators like bees, while the plant itself provides habitat for various small creatures.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Libido enhancement - Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as Horny Goat Weed, is often used to support sexual health by increasing libido.
    • Erectile dysfunction - It contains icariin, which is thought to have phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitory effects, potentially aiding in erectile function.
    • Osteoporosis prevention - Some compounds in Horny Goat Weed may help prevent bone loss, contributing to the possible prevention of osteoporosis.
    • Anti-inflammatory properties - The plant may exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, which could be useful in managing inflammatory conditions.
    • Immune system modulation - It may support immune function, potentially enhancing overall immune response.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Decorative ground cover: Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as Fairy Wings, can serve as a beautiful ground cover in shady gardens, adding a layer of visual interest with its heart-shaped leaves.
    • Butterfly and bee attractant: The flowers of Fairy Wings can attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees, which are essential for a healthy ecosystem.
    • Shade garden enhancement: Due to its tolerance of low light conditions, Fairy Wings can be used to bring color and life to darker sections of a garden.
    • Natural mulch: The leaves of Fairy Wings can be used as a natural mulch, which helps retain soil moisture and prevent weed growth.
    • Dried flower arrangements: The delicate and colorful flowers of Fairy Wings can be dried and used in decorative arrangements within the home.
    • Erosion control: Fairy Wings, with its spreading habit, can help stabilize soil on slopes and prevent erosion.
    • Living pathways: Planting Fairy Wings between stepping stones can create a magical and natural-looking pathway in a garden.
    • Border plant: Fairy Wings can be used as a border plant to define the edges of garden beds or walkways with its neat mounding habit.
    • Winter garden interest: Some varieties of Fairy Wings have evergreen leaves that can add color and texture to a garden during the colder months.
    • Companion planting: Fairy Wings can be used in conjunction with other shade-loving plants to create a diverse and layered aesthetic in a woodland garden.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Bishop's Hat is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Bishop's Hat is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Sensual Pleasure: Epimedium, commonly known as Bishop's Hat, is often associated with sensual pleasure due to its aphrodisiac properties, which have been celebrated in traditional medicine.
    • Fertility: The plant's ability to stimulate and regulate hormones has given it a reputation as a symbol for fertility and reproductive health.
    • Longevity: In traditional Chinese medicine, Bishop's Hat is believed to promote long life and is taken as a tonic to counteract the effects of aging.
    • Vitality: The vigor with which this plant grows, often spreading quickly in the garden, makes it a symbol for vitality and robust health.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    For Bishop's Hat, which is the common name for Epimedium pauciflorum, watering should be done carefully to maintain moist but not waterlogged soil, particularly during the spring and summer growing seasons. It's recommended to water the plant once a week with approximately 1 gallon of water per session, depending on the climate and soil drainage. During the fall and winter, reduce watering to every other week or less, as the plant requires less moisture when it's not actively growing. Always check the top inch of soil for dryness before watering to prevent overwatering.

  • sunLight

    Bishop's Hat thrives in dappled shade or partial sunlight. The ideal spot is under the canopy of open trees or on the north or east-facing sides of buildings where it can receive bright but indirect sunlight. Direct afternoon sun can be too intense and might scorch the leaves, so avoid placing the plant in areas that receive harsh sunlight during peak hours.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Bishop's Hat prefers temperatures ranging between 50°F and 70°F, which are ideal for its growth. While it can survive minimum temperatures down to about -30°F once established, it should be protected from harsh frosts when young. It can handle temperatures up to 80°F, but prolonged heat above this can stress the plant, so it's important to provide shade and adequate moisture during hot spells.

  • scissorsPruning

    Bishop's Hat should be pruned to remove old, damaged, or spent foliage and to promote fresh growth. Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. This plant does not require heavy pruning; simply clean up any undesirable leaves. Pruning annually helps to maintain a neat appearance and rejuvenates the plant for the coming season.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    For the best growth of Bishop's hat (the common name for Epimedium pauciflorum), prepare a soil mix with good drainage that is rich in organic matter. The ideal soil mix can be achieved by combining loamy garden soil with compost and leaf mold to enhance fertility and moisture retention. A slightly acidic to neutral pH, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, is optimal for Bishop's hat.

  • plantRepotting

    Bishop's hat does not need frequent repotting as it is quite tolerant of being root-bound. It typically requires repotting every 3 to 4 years to refresh the soil and provide room for growth. Repot in spring, just before the growing season begins.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Bishop's hat prefers moderate humidity levels but is adaptable and can tolerate the lower humidity typically found in home environments. Aim to provide humidity levels of around 30% to 50% for optimal growth conditions.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      For Bishop's hat, ensure bright, indirect light and regular watering.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Bishop's hat in partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as Bishop's Hat or Barrenwort, begins its life cycle as a seed which germinates in early spring under the appropriate temperature and moisture conditions. The emergent seedling develops into a juvenile plant with a small rosette of heart-shaped leaves. As the plant matures, it forms a rhizomatous root system that helps it to spread and establish a more permanent presence in its woodland habitat. Mature Epimedium pauciflorum plants produce delicate, spurred flowers that range in color from yellow to purple in mid-to-late spring, attracting pollinators. After pollination, the flowers transform into dry, capsule-like fruits containing seeds that are dispersed by gravity and possibly by small animals, completing the reproductive cycle. Throughout its life, this perennial herb enters a period of dormancy during the winter months, with the foliage often dying back, to re-emerge the following spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • Propogation: The most popular method of propagation for Epimedium pauciflorum, commonly known as barrenwort, is by division. This is ideally done in the fall or early spring when the plant is not in active growth. To propagate barrenwort by division, carefully dig up an established clump and gently separate it into smaller segments, ensuring that each new piece has a portion of the roots and at least one growing point. Replant these divisions immediately at the same depth they were previously growing, spacing them about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) apart to allow ample room for growth. Water them thoroughly after planting to help establish the new plants. Over time, these divisions will grow into full-sized plants that will flower and perform just like the original clump.