Carpe Diem!

Like all spring ephemera, twinleaf lives the expression carpe diem—seize the day. It takes about a month from groundbreaking to seed-setting. They erupt from faintly greenish pods, with flower buds wrapped protectively in reddish purple leaves. 

Twinleaf plants freshly erupted from their pods. Photographed on March 13, 2024.

I have to wonder whether the reddish purple, I am guessing from anthocyanins, protects the plants from predation; the rabbits have never touched them—not one nibble. It’s remarkable, considering the voracious appetites of our rabbits. Do the plants fade into the surrounding soil because the rabbits cannot see their color? Do they taste bad? Do the plants make rabbits feel sick?

A young twinleaf with a single flower bud. The twin green leaves huddled next to it belong to a Scilla bifolia. Photographed on March 24, 2024.

As the plants grow, green begins to show between the leaf veins, and the still-purple flower stalks shoot straight above the leaves.

Twinleaf puts its energy into getting the flower buds above the leaves. Photographed on April 5, 2024.

Two days later, the twinleaf starts to bloom… 

Twinleaf flowers opening for the first time. Photographed on April 7, 2024.

Within 24 hours just about all the flower buds have popped open. Green begins to dominate the leaf color.

Twinleaf in full bloom. The petals and yellow stamens ring the bottom of the green ovary, which will become the seedpod. Photographed on April 8, 2024.

The weather was reasonably mild with rather cold nights, so the flowers lasted at least a couple of days. This is not a plant that will give you a long floral display, but it makes up for that with all the other phases of its life above ground.

A storm literally blew in; it poured on April 11 and only slightly less on April 12. All the twinleaf petals were gone, and most of the Dutchman’s breeches, too, but the twinleaf is now all green with its butterfly leaves fully unfurled and a lot of developing seedpods. 

Twinleaf with two seedpods. The one in the center certainly has developing seeds, but the little one on its right may not have been fertilized. Photographed on April 15, 2024.

The plants will continue to grow while they are setting seed and become a very nice groundcover under the pawpaw.

Hilarity will ensue in about a month when those seeds are ripe, if I catch them in time—the pods all seem to go within hours of each other. The seeds don’t go far, and any that come up in a bad spot can be easily moved or removed. New plants tend to come up very close to the parent plants.

A parent twinleaf between twigs that form a V. Below the parent are three seedlings, two between the twigs and one to the left. The somewhat bigger seedling to the right is a violet, which does not belong there. Photographed on April 9, 2024.