The Rhododendron valley is an splendid place for shade-loving ground-cover plants. Also the red barrenwort (red bishop's hat) thrives there. When the new leaves appear in spring they are colored in red. Simultaneously opening small but numerous four-pointed flowers have red sepals and pale yellow petals. The flowers will soon disappear under the dense new growth. The leaves are thin, tough and light green during the summer. In autumn they turn again to reddish-brown color.
The red barrenwort is a hybrid of the garden origin from the middle of the 19th century. Its parental is alpine barrenwort (E. alpinum), native in Southern and Central Europe, and large flowered barrenwort (E. grandiflorum) from Asia. This hybrid is a reliable shade perennial and therefore still common even if the commercial availability barrenworts has remarkably increased during this millenium.
Barrenworts belong in the family Berberidaceae which is known for the thorny shrubs. Equally the leaves of red barrenwort are circled by sharp but very tiny thorns.