In order to evaluate the genome evolution and systematics, karyotype analysis of mitotic metaphase chromosomes in 51 taxa of Epimedium and two species of Vancouveria was conducted. The 53 taxa were clustered, based on their karyotype similarity coefficients. Results showed that the 53 taxa studied were all diploid with 12 chromosomes (2 n = 2 x = 12). Each taxon had one pair of satellites located on pair I of homologous chromosomes. Moreover, the karyotype types of the 53 taxa studied were all type 1A or 2A of Stebbins. It can be concluded that the karyotypes between species are indeed very similar and the genome of Epimedium was conservative in evolution. The cluster analysis of karyotype similarity coefficients could provide valuable clues for the systematics and taxonomy of Epimedium . Results of the cluster analysis strongly supported the previous taxonomic division of E. subg. Rhizophyllum and E. subg. Epimedium . The results also showed that the interspecific relationship was closely correlated with geographical distribution in E. subg. Epimedium and the taxa native to east Asia had the highest genetic diversity in Epimedium . Finally, the origin of the modern geographical distribution of Epimedium was inferred. Results of the present study have significant scientific values in further studies on resource utilisation, taxonomy and phylogeny in Epimedium .