Starry Barrenwort – Epimedium stellulatum

Starry Barrenwort – Epimedium stellulatum
Family Berberidaceae – Barberry

Popularly known as "bishop's hat," this low-growing perennial features stellar white flowers.
Plants in genus Epimedium are popularly known as bishop's hat or fairywings, for their distinctive flowers; this species' epithet and common name reflect the stellar qualities of the tiny white and yellow flowers. Epimedia are useful as perennial groundcovers, growing and spreading through subsoil rhizomes. Although there are a number of plants in the barberry family that live here, none of the members of this genus are native to North America [2].

There is a whole range of interesting but unsupported claims of Epimedium's medical and aphrodisiac properties put forth by Wikipedia; I won't reprint them here because of the insubstantial supporting references. Suffice it to say one of the chemical constituents, icariin, has been identified as the source of a legendary tale about ancient Chinese goats and their resultant horniness following a meal of the plants; Wikipedians took the liberty of assigning new "common" names, including "horny goatweed, rowdy lamb herd and randy beef grass," all seemingly devised to underwrite the alleged Spanish-fly quality of a whole genus [1]. does sell various herbal concoctions labeled "super horny goatweed" and ying yang huo," as well as "Icariins (sic) 40% premium concentrated blend (5 grams) bulk powder." As always, I am highly suspicious of such claims and aghast at the FDA's seeming complaisance in policing the industry. I cannot fathom anyone ingesting any of the unknown and unregulated substances contained in such ersatz drugs.

WebMD lists "insufficient evidence" to support barrenwort efficacy in any of the following conditions:
Erectile dysfunction, ejaculation problems
Sexual problems
Memory loss
High blood pressure.
Heart disease.
Liver disease.
Joint pain.
Other conditions.

"More evidence is needed to rate horny goat weed for these uses" [3].

Plants for a Future, as is their wont, repeats and expands some of the same misinformation as the Wkipedia article, behind their boilerplate disclaimer: "Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally." [4]

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