Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Rare plant monitoring annual report

Catch up with the latest news in rare plant monitoring efforts throughout Wisconsin.

Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle

Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)

Life history

Species overview

Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in very rich hardwood forests, often with dolomite near the surface. Blooming occurs throughout May; fruiting occurs early July through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is early May through early June.

Synonyms: Podophyllum diphyllum


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Flower white, solitary on a leafless stalk; leaves divided into two equal halves, joined in the middle.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence solitary, 1 to 3 cm wide, on a leafless stalk; petals white, usually 8, arranged in 2 rows, fallling soon after antithesis.
  • Fruit characteristics: 2 to 3 cm, capsular, opening in the distal half by a horizontal cleft extending half way around it, the top forming a lid, pipe-like in appearance.
  • Leaf characteristics: Few basal leaves deeply divided into 2 equal halves, joined in the middle; blades immature at anthesis, eventually 8 to 15 cm long.


  • Blooming phenology: throughout May
  • Fruiting phenology: early July through early September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early May through early June


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Hydrastis canadensis, Dicentra canadensis, Carex jamesii, Isopyrum biternatum, Panax quinquefolius, Polymnia canadensis, Fagus grandifolia.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Jeffersonia diphylla in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in very rich hardwood forests, often with dolomite near the surface.
  • Soils: Rich, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Twinleaf. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Floodplain Forest 2
Southern Mesic Forest 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Twinleaf. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.
  • Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.


Twinleaf Photo.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Twinleaf Photo.

Photo by  staff, Wisconsin DNR.

Twinleaf Photo.

Photo by  staff, Wisconsin DNR.

Twinleaf Photo.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Twinleaf Photo.

Photo by Armund Bartz, Wisconsin DNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition