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Jeffersonia diphylla (L.) Pers.


KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassMagnoliidaeIncludes magnolias, nutmeg, bay laurel, cinnamon, avocado, black pepper, and many others
OrderRanunculalesBasal (evolved earlier) eudicots, also called “true dicots”
FamilyBerberidaceaeBarberry family
GenusJeffersoniaNamed for Thomas Jefferson
SpeciesdiphyllaGreek for “two-leaved”

About plant names...

Twinleaf is native to eastern North America and eastern Asia. The genus Jeffersonia is named for Thomas Jefferson by his friend, William Bartram, also a botanist. Twinleaf is rare now, considered threatened or endangered in Georgia, Iowa, New York, and New Jersey.

Identification: Twinleaf is so named because each leaf consists of two halves that are mirror images of each other, looking a bit like the wings of a green moth. These slow-growing perennials reach about 8" (20 cm) in size. Each leaf and flower occurs atop its own stem, and all the stems emerge from the base of the plant. Leaves are smooth-edged and two-lobed, and fairly unique in shape. Each flower is white, with 8 petals, 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 cm) in diameter. Fruits, about 1¼" (3.2 cm) high and 1" (2.5 cm) in diameter, are thimble-shaped, with a cap that makes them resemble a bell pepper.

Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf)

Britton, Nathaniel Lord, and Brown, Addison, An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions, 1913. Courtesy of the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Online References:

Jeffersonia on Wikipedia

Jeffersonia diphylla on Plants for a Future

Jeffersonia diphylla at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Jeffersonia diphylla at the U.S. Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers site

Jeffersonia diphylla on

Jeffersonia diphylla on eFloras


Jeffersonia diphylla description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf)

1/19/2021 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts


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