Fairy Wings Epimedium


‘Spine Tingler’ and ‘Sandy Claws’

Fairy Wings

These two outstanding selections form low, spreading, semi-evergreen shade plants with unique, spine-edge leaves and delicate spring flowers. ‘Spine Tingler’ offers yellow flowers held above foliage to about 8” tall while ‘Sandy Claws’ grows to about 15” tall with white/yellow flowers. Highly resistant to deer/rabbit browse.

Other info: USDA cold hardiness zones 5-8. Tolerates dry shade but happier with adequate moisture. ‘Spine Tingler’ is E. wushanense while ‘Sandy Claws’ most often considered of unknown background.

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These two excellent selections may be different species but they perform similarly in the garden.


Best in light shade/filtered light, barrenworts form slowly spreading groundcover masses of evergreen to semi-evergreen foliage and delicate spring flowers that inspired their other common name, fairy wings. They are typically described as being happy in dry shade but the honest truth is that they will tolerate dry shade but are happier with a nice quality and evenly moist soil throughout the season. Epimediums are easy to grow, quite durable and are not eaten by deer or rabbits. 


‘Spine Tingler’ is a selection of an unknown Chinese species introduced by Darrell Probst in 2008. Emerging in spring with narrow and delicately spined leaves flushed with a bit of burgundy/bronze, the foliage is topped in mid spring with sprays of delicate, soft yellow flowers. Plants form masses about 8-10” tall and are happiest in USDA cold hardiness zones 5-8. 


‘Sandy Claws’ is a selection of E. wushanense introduced by Walters Gardens. In comparison with ‘Spine Tingler’, ‘Sandy Claws’ grows taller (to about 16”), has a more pronounced burgundy color to the spring leaves, and the flowers tend more toward a creamy white. It has the same lance-shaped, delicately spiny, evergreen leaves. Happiest in USDA cold hardiness zones 6-8.

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