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: kristin - Fairview Township
on: 2016-03-19 22:34:42

I found one twin flower in my natural woods last year. It will be interesting to see what flowers return after last year's "blow down". I lost 80% of my trees, but have refused foresters that would come in and damage wildflowers and mushrooms.

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!

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