Epimedium is a genus of about 40 related plant species. The Chinese refer to epimedium as "yin yang huo", which has been loosely translated by some as "licentious goat plant" and explains why Western supplement companies have adopted the titillating name by which it is known in the U.S: (Horny Goat Weed). Epimedium is grown as an ornamental herb in Asia and the Mediterranean region, and various species are used for medicinal purposes, including Epimedium sagittatum, Epimedium brevicornum, Epimedium wushanense, Epimedium koreanum, and Epimedium pubescens.
Epimedium is an excellent choice to plant in any shade garden. The lower growing varieties make a great ground cover and 'coverup' for areas which otherwise might remain barren. These perennials will survive in one of the most difficult situations in the garden; the dry shade beneath a tree. In time, Epimedium will become a sizable clump, but this growth is slow. These plants are hardy in USDA zones 4-8, and range in height from 6 to 20 inches, depending on the cultivar.
The foliage and the flower clusters appear at the ends of separate, wire-like stems.
The heart or lance shaped foliage is attractive the year round. The overlapping 2-3 inch leaves are light green, but in the spring, the new foliage will have a pink to bronze tint. In the fall, the leaves again become edged in bronze. The foliage will remain on the plant all winter, if it is planted in a protected location.
The star shaped, four-petaled flowers dangle in clusters when they appear in mid to late spring. Depending on the cultivar, they may be white, cream, rose, lavender or yellow in color.