Jeffersonia diphylla (Twinleaf)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Berberidaceae (Barberry)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Special Concern
Habitat:part shade; rich woods
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:4 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flower] A single 1-inch flower at the end of a slender naked stem. Flowers have 8 white petals and 8 erect yellow stames around the green ovary in the center. A plant may have multiple flowering stems.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are basal on slender stalks, they are deeply cleft at the tip and base, appearing to be a pair of leaves mirroring each other. Each half is typically somewhat oval with a pointed tip, but may be lobed or coarsely toothed or wavy around the edges. A few scale-like leaves surround the base of the plant. During the bloom season, leaves may only be about an inch long, on stalks shorter than the flowers. As fruit develops both flowering stems and leaf stalks elongate and leaves can enlarge up to 4 inches long.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a leathery capsule ¾ to 1½ inches long, splitting open along a seam around the upper half, the top resembling a lid. Inside are oblong seeds about ¼ inch long.


Twinleaf is a Special Concern species in both Minnesota and Wisconsin; Minnesota is on the northwest fringe of its range and this species is only found in our most southeastern counties. According to the DNR, much of its forest habitat has succumbed to agriculture and development and it now faces additional threats from non-native invasive species. Twinleaf flowers look very similar to Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), which has distinctly different leaves that are larger, more round in outline, and lobed in 3 to 9 parts.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis and in a private garden in Dakota County


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Petyer
on: 2010-04-24 10:32:02

While a species of Special Concern in Minnesota - we are in the extreme NW edge of its range, it's far more common in Wisconsin - this species is increasingly available at retail garden centers such as Linders (limited quantities & expensive) does well in rich soil shade gardens - very fleeting but wonderful in the spring.

Posted by: Sandy - Cambridge, MN
on: 2015-04-29 12:36:58

Just spotted them this AM. have lived here many years. Was very excited to find them listed here.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-04-30 16:12:34

Sandy, twinleaf is only found "in the wild" down in the southeast corner of the state so what you saw in Isanti county was more likely bloodroot. The flowers are similar, but the leaves set them apart.

Posted by: AR - Minneapolis
on: 2017-05-12 10:51:04

I have one very healthy plant that was transplanted from a friend's natural woods nearby three years ago. This year I have one volunteer that is tiny and I am protecting in the hopes it takes hold. Question: can I split the larger established plant? I just LOVE this species!

Posted by: Andrea - Richard T Anderson Conservation Area
on: 2018-05-04 21:35:14

Not sure but it seems to fit the description. Bloomed in the last two weeks.

Posted by: Jeanice Moffatt - Rice County
on: 2019-05-12 10:06:43

I saw my first Twinleaf yesterday at the base of a tree on the hiking trail in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in Rice County. It definitely had the split leaf. After IDing flowers for many years this is my first sighting of the Twinleaf. I used this site to ID it so Thank You!

Posted by: Jacquelynn Goessling - John Dorer State Forest near Reno, MN
on: 2021-04-19 15:26:54

We saw quite a few blooming Twinleaf in the coulees of the Dorer State Forest.

Posted by: Susan Premo - Whitewater wildlife state management unit
on: 2021-05-07 15:36:16

Just curious, what invasive species is involved? There is a couple of clumps of them at whitewater st park. But a beaver has moved in and taking down an awful lot of trees, I didn't mean the beaver being invasive! Just wondering what is. And do you suppose the person before me in comments,rant Richard Dorer pools , my husband and I spend a lot of time there, a lot. I'd live to see what Coulee she means?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-05-07 16:14:11

Susan, the biggest invasive species threats in forested areas are earthworms, garlic mustard, buckthorn and honeysuckle.

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