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Garden Talk

Epimedium 'Amber Queen'

Horticultural Highlight: Epimedium 'Amber Queen'

In this series, the staff of Duke Gardens highlights plants you’ll find within our 55-acre living collection. This week Culberson Asiatic Arboretum horticulturist Michelle Rawlins talks about a perennial favorite.

Michelle Rawlins

Botanical name: Epimedium 'Amber Queen' (Epimedium 'Caramel' x E. flavum)
Common name: Bishop's hat, fairy wings, barrenwort
Family name: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)
Plant type: Perennial
Native range: Cultivated Origin
Location in Duke Gardens: Culberson Asiatic Arboretum near the entrance of the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden
Site requirements: Rich, well-drained soil with light to medium shade
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Epimedium 'Amber Queen'

While walking into the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden recently, I had to stop to snap a photo of one of my favorite epimediums in the garden: Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’.

This mass planting consists of 30 plants that were planted two years ago and have since created a wonderful carpet of tiny yellow to bronze flowers that bloom from March through May. Thousands of flowers were adorned with morning dew, a magnificent sight that I enjoyed thoroughly.

Soon their spiny, burgundy colored, mottled leaves will emerge as the spring weather continues to warm, creating a 2-foot-wide plant that loves to grow in light to medium shade.

Duke Gardens has around 65 species and cultivars of epimediums in our collection. They come in all sizes, some extremely small and others almost knee high by the end of May. Epimedium species display an array of colors, both in flowers and foliage. They are located throughout the arboretum, but the majority of them are in the wooded area north of the Garden for Peace. 

Please note: Duke Gardens is closed until further notice, including both indoor and outdoor areas, in keeping with Duke University’s COVID-19 health and safety policies. Our on-site horticulture staff are sharing photos, videos and information about the Gardens’ plant collections in the meantime, through Garden Talk and social media. We hope you like these features, and we look forward to enjoying the Gardens together once again in the future.

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Photos by Michelle Rawlins (above) and Paul Jones (below).

Epimedium 'Amber Queen'