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Jeffersonia is a genus in the barberry family (Berberidaceae) with a single species in North America (and one other in Japan) named after Thomas Jefferson, who grew this plant in his gardens at Monticello. Jeffersonia diphylla is native to moist deciduous forests of eastern North America from Minnesota and Iowa east to Ontario, Canada and New York and south to Alabama and Georgia. It is relatively uncommon in its range and is endangered in some areas because of both habitat destruction and invasive species. It is hardy in zones 4-9.Jeffersonia diphylla (Twinleaf) is a compact, clump-forming, deciduous perennial with long-stemmed, blue-green basal leaves, 6 in. long (15 cm), deeply divided into two symmetrical lobes, resembling a pair of angel wings. In early to late spring, brilliant star-like white flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm), adorned with eight petals and a showy bouquet of yellow stamens bloom singly atop leafless stalks. Both leaves and flowers are produced at the same time from the rhizome on long, purplish stems. The cup-shaped blossoms are followed by interesting pear-shaped capsule that pops open when ripe. At the time of flowering the plant is only 8 in. tall (20 cm), but it continues to grow and may reach 18 in. (45 cm) when the fruit ripens. The foliage will remain attractive until mid to late summer when the plant goes dormant. Twinleaf is perfectly suited to well suited to woodland or shade gardens, under deciduous trees where it starts out in part sun, but is in shade by summerPlants of Jeffersonia diphylla were used medicinally by Native Americans for treatment of dropsy, gravel and urinary ailments, and for gall and diarrhea, and in poultices for sores and ulcers (D. E. Moermann 1986). effersonia diphylla flowers in the early spring.
These single white flowers resemble Bloodroot, however, the "twinleaves" of Jeffersonia diphylla are very distinct. Its flower stalks and leaves grow directly from an underground rhizome. Twinlfeaf is not considered a Spring Ephemeral because the leaves remain photosynthetically active all summer. Jeffersonia diphylla is uncommon both in the wild and in gardens. It starts early in spring with purplish new growth that opens white flowers long before leaves show on deciduous trees. Unfortunately the flowers only last a few days. Its real beauty comes next as the blue-green leaves develop. The shape of these is very unusual and look as if someone has pasted two leaves together, hence the name diphylla.IT PUSHES UP OUT of the ground all crazy-colored and not green, the way some of my favorite early-arising native woodlanders do presumably to disguise themselves from hungry awakening herbivores. And then Jeffersonia diphylla, or twinleaf, proceeds to distinguish itself in other ways, too. Put it right alongside the pathway so you can appreciate all its aspects up-close:Jeffersonia diphylla, commonly known as twinleaf, is a flowering plant in the Berberidaceae family. Twinleaf is a perennial herb that produces white blooms during the months of March through May. The star-like flowers of 8 petals bloom on leafless stalks above immature leaves of only 8 to 12 inches tall; mature plants are up to 3 feet tall. The pear-shaped fruit pod is dehiscent and pops open to dispense seed. Its common name of twinleaf is due to the formation of identical lobes of the blue-green leaf at the top of stems. Native to North America, it can be found growing under the canopy of trees in the eastern portion of Canada and in the United States, Wisconsin to New York, to North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Twinleaf prefers moist, well-drained, acidic soils in areas of full to part shade. It can be found in moist and extremely nutrient-rich forests, generally over rocks such as limestone. Twinleaf is a threatened species in North Carolina. (Source: plants.ces.ncsu.edu)