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.