Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)

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The genus name Jeffersonia name honors President Thomas Jefferson, who was a farmer and a horticulturist.

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Twinleaf,  Jeffersonia diphylla

Light: Shade, Part Shade

Moisture: Moist

Soil:  Rich, Limestone

Height: 8″–18″

Bloom Season:  April

Bloom Color: White

Notes: This uncommon Spring ephemeral has dark green basal leaves which are divided into symmetrical lobes that look as if they are two separate leaves. Its stems are thin and wiry, and its showy, white flowers look very similar to those of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) although they are not in the same family. Its flowers are fleeting—a strong wind or a hard rain can knock the flowers right off from their leafless stalks, but you can enjoy their unusual leaves till Fall.

After the petals drop, the leaves fully open and green fruit forms as a roughly pear-shaped capsule that may be hidden under the leaves. When the capsule is dry, its hinged lid opens up like a little trash bin to reveal the shiny, light brown seeds that are dispersed by ants.

The plant is slow to mature and may take several years to flower. Be patient and you will be rewarded!

Plant it under deciduous trees where it will be in part sun in early Spring and a shady spot in the hot Summer months.

Photo by Ruth Oldenburg


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