Twinleaf is a clumping, herbaceous perennial that develops to 1.5 feet in height. The name Twinleaf refers to the attractive foliage of the plant; upright petioles that bear bi-laterally symmetrical leaflets that look very much like the open wings of a butterfly. The foliage, which emerges a light violet in early spring, quickly matures to a deep blue-green. Beautiful, white, 8-petaled flowers open with the foliage, yet within one or two days, pass to make way for the developing fruits.
The pollinated flowers of Twinleaf develop intriguing, lidded, urn-shaped fruits reminiscent of tiny trash bins. When mature a fissure opens near the top of the fruit to release the dark brown seeds to the soil below. The seeds bear elaiosomes, (fat-rich tissues that are especially attractive to ants) which provide an energy rich reward in exchange for the dispersal duties of ants.
Twinleaf is a great selection for massing in the woodland garden or as a specimen in a mixed border in cool shade. The foliage harmonizes with many of our native woodland perennials and serves as an exceptional and luxurious ground cover. Twinleaf prefers moist soils with a pH slightly acid to neutral.
Twinleaf grows in rich forests, showing a preference for limestone-derived soils, from southern Ontario and western New York south to Tennessee and Northern Alabama.
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Boston Natural Areas Network
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