About Twinleaf: This shy woodland flower has become somewhat rare and is now a protected plant in several states. Named in 1792 by American botanist Benjamin Smith Barton, its genus name of Jeffersonia honors the third American president. Thomas Jefferson was himself an aspiring horticulturist and grew this plant in his gardens at Monticello. The seeds of this plant attract ants because of nutrient-rich structures attached to the seed; the ants then distribute the seed in a dispersal method called myrmecochory. The common name of twinleaf comes from the two identical leaves on each stem. Interestingly, the only other member of the Jeffersonia genus is a woodland plant native to the forests of Japan.
Twinleaf Germination: To break their dormancy, these seeds need to experience cold and warm moist periods followed by another period of cold moisture. Mix the seeds with a small amount of damp sand and place in a sealed plastic bag; store in a refrigerator for 30 days, then at 70-75 degrees F for 30 days, with a final period of 30 days in the refrigerator. Sow the seed just below the surface of the soil in a germination flat, keeping the soil lightly moist and at room temperature until germination; since these plants resent having their roots disturbed, they should be transplanted outdoors as soon as they can safely be handled. Alternatively, this seed can be direct sowed outdoors in late fall and allowed up to two years to germinate.
Growing Twinleaf Seeds: Transplant seedlings after the last frost of spring; keep the soil consistently moist and free of weeds. This plant develops rather slowly, usually producing only a few leaves in its first year because of the growth of its extensive root system. Blooming usually occurs after 5-6 seasons of growth. Mature plants also grow best in moist soil, and will benefit from a mulch of leaves to conserve moisture and control weeds. Fully developed plants can easily be divided in late fall or early spring. Though it blooms in spring, this plant remains attractive until frost and can be used as an effective ground cover.
Harvesting Twinleaf: These blossoms do not perform well as cut flowers, and are best enjoyed outdoors.
Saving Twinleaf Seeds: A few weeks after blooming, this plant will produce a rounded 1" pod with a top that eventually opens, spilling out shiny brown seeds. Collect the seeds as soon as they mature to a brown color. For best germination, plant the seed immediately or keep them moist in the refrigerator until planting.
Detailed Twinleaf Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Helmet Pod, Ground Squirrel Pea, Rheumatism Root Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Early Spring Height: 6-12 inches Spacing: 9-12 inches Light: Woodland Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 1,200 Produces double wing-shaped 6" leaves and fragile eight-petaled white flowers 1-1.5" in diameter.