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Barrenwort is a spring-flowering woodland plant. It also has attractive foliage and evergreen varieties can make effective ground cover. Some species produce good autumn colour and others have orange, red or purple tints to their foliage in spring.
There are 54 species, both evergreen and deciduous, which are native to woodland mainly in northeast Asia. There are also a few European natives.
Most prefer full to part-shade, and a humus-rich soil. Some varieties with origins in Europe will tolerate sunnier positions and drier soils, providing care is taken when establishing.