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Twinleaf, Helmet Pod, Ground Squirrel Pea

Jeffersonia diphylla

Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Jeffersonia (Jefferson-ee-a) (Info)
Species: diphylla (dy-FIL-uh) (Info)




Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring



Other details:

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Haubstadt, Indiana

Bardstown, Kentucky

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dracut, Massachusetts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Louis, Missouri

Exeter, New Hampshire

Ringoes, New Jersey

Honeoye Falls, New York

Sag Harbor, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Grove City, Ohio

Hubbard, Oregon

Cresco, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

Harrisonburg, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Midlothian, Virginia

Newport News, Virginia

Seattle, Washington

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 12, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a beautiful native spring ephemeral. The flowers are lovely, but as fleeting as those of bloodroot. The leaves are dark purple when emerging, but then turn green after a few days, like those of Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica.

It does not have rhizomes or stolons, does not spread except by seed, and does not lend itself to propagation by division. The foliage goes dormant in late spring, so it can hardy serve as a groundcover.

In the wild and in the garden, the seeds are spread by ants. I see self-sown seedlings near the original plants.


On Apr 30, 2008, NHLady from Exeter, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

I recently saw this plant at Monticello. Its common name, Twinleaf, is the name of the newsletter produced by the horticulture folks at Monticello. I purchased a small plant at Garden in the Woods (N.E. Wildflower Society) in MA last weekend. It's a lovely wildflower to plant with trillium and epimedium, as someone else commented above. I'll patiently wait for it to flower in the years ahead.


On Nov 20, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Zone 4a hardy, slow to flower I planted some last year and two years ago they came up fine but hadn't flower yet. Interesting foliage and make a nice company to Trilliums and Bloodroots.
Update 2008: It bloomed last year and are blooming again this year with small bloodroot - like flowers


On Feb 15, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

According to the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants, American Indians used a root tea for cramps, spasms, nervous excitability, diarrhea, kidney stones, dropsy, urinary infections, gargle for sore throats. CAUTION: PROBABLY TOXIC.


On May 17, 2005, jklewis from Cambridge, MA wrote:

A lovely but very fleeting white spring flower. Has seeded itself in my back yard in the shade. Attractive split leafed foliage about 10"-12" tall. It is planted behind a bed of epimedium, which it complements.


On May 5, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Stoloniferous groundcover. Native to US woodlands, protected in some states. Seeds are collected by ants as they ripen, making it unlikely that a gardener will be able to collect ripe ones. Collected seeds sprout from ant nests in spring.

Grown for foliage; resembles bloodroot, but leaves are not quite as big. Sap leaks from cut rhizomes, so disturb only if necessary.

Flowers are pretty, but very fleeting.