Jeffersonia diphylla
Common Name: twinleaf 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Best grown in moist, humusy, well-drained, limestone soils in part shade. Tolerates full shade. Plants are best sited under the canopies of large deciduous trees where they will receive part sun in spring before the trees leaf out, but are well-shaded throughout the heat of the summer. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. Appreciates a summer mulch to help keep the roots cool.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Jeffersonia diphylla, commonly called twinleaf, is a somewhat uncommon spring woodland wildflower that is native from New York to Wisconsin south to Alabama and Virginia. It is usually found in limestone soils in rich damp woods. It is a clump-forming plant that typically grows to 8” tall when in flower in early spring, but continues to grow thereafter eventually reaching 18” tall by the time its fruit ripens. Features long-stemmed, blue-green basal leaves (to 6” long) which are deeply divided into two lobes that give the appearance of being two separate leaves, hence the common name. In early spring (April), white cup-shaped flowers (1” diameter) bloom singly atop rigid leafless stalks to 8” tall. Each flower has eight petals. Flowers are somewhat reminiscent of bloodroot, but the plants are unrelated and in different families. Fruit is an interesting pear-shaped dehiscent pod with a lid.

Genus name honors Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), President of the Unites States, plants man and patron of botany with a deep interest in horticulture and farming.

Specific epithet means having two leaves or leaflets.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to slugs and snails.


Woodland gardens, shade gardens, native plant gardens or shaded areas of rock gardens. When massed, foliage forms an effective ground cover for shady areas.