Monday, April 4, 2011

The Curious Flower

There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me. .... ........... Thomas Jefferson

The "Father of American Botany," Benjamin Smith Barton named Twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, to honor Thomas Jefferson. It was not his political prowess or scientific accomplishments, but rather Barton cited "his knowledge of natural history."

Jefferson was a man of great curiosity, and it is fitting that this curious flower is his namesake. It is the only plant in this genus, and oddly enough- one of its relatives is Barberry.

The subtle white flowers are short lived, often lasting but a day. The corolla resembles that of a Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, however the similarity end there. This flower was conspicuously present on the Twinleaf Trail at Whipple, and although the flower will be past, it is still well worth seeking out the plant.

The Twinleaf is well named, easily recognizable by the paired leaves (two leaf + diphylla.) Is it any wonder these plants with delicate butterfly-like "wings" would capture my imagination? This was a plant I have dreamed of seeing in flower, since my childhood. It is not everyday one fulfills childhood dreams. Let's protect them in our Natural Areas and Preserves for future children of great curiosity.


  1. Jefferson's wide range of interest always amazes me!
    Glad you had enough blooms to trip down the trail...hoping to see you again soon!

  2. ...I really enjoyed this weekend too, and learned so much! Every time I see these leaves I think of butterfly wings...

  3. Thanks Nina-
    Look forward to seeing you at Flora-Quest!

  4. Hooray for the Twinleaf in bloom. So glad you got to see this, Cheryl. And I'm so glad I got to see YOU!

  5. Hi Kelly and Heather-
    It was awesome to get together with the whole group, and so interesting so see each ones perspectives of the day reflected on their blogs! See you both again soon, I hope!