Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf) has single flowers with eight pure white petals that appear on leafless stalks early in the year. True to its name, its leaves are deeply divided into two twin leaflets like a pair of butterfly wings.

Twinleaf is a spring ephemeral wildflower native to rich woodlands throughout the Northeast and Midwest. After the flowers fade the leaves can rise to 18. The fruits that follow are leathery, pear-shaped capsules which turn from green to yellow-green as they mature. The seeds are dispersed by ants. The genus was named for Thomas Jefferson, a friend of the botanist who first identified the species. The root was used by American Indians as a tea to treat several gastrointestinal ailments as well as external skin issues. The USDA warns that it is probably toxic, so we don’t suggest trying it!

Botanical Name Jeffersonia diphylla
Common Name twinleaf
Family Berberidaceae
USDA Zone 5 thru 7
Light Requirement Part Shade to Full Shade
Season(s) of interest spring, summer
Height and Spread 0.75-1.5ft x 0.75 (22-45cm x 22cm)
Flower Color White
Attracts Wildlife Attracts Pollinators,
Additional Information Native to Chicago Region. Native range: Woods from New York and southern Ontario west to Wisconsin and Iowa, south to northern Alabama and east to Maryland.
Location in Lurie Garden East Dark Plate, Southeast Dark Plate


Average Flowering Time