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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Mitella diphylla L. 

Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Common Name:

bishopís cap, two-leaved miterwort


Two-leaved miterwort is a delicate native perennial that grows in  wooded ravines, rich often rocky woods, along shady stream banks and occasionally in cedar swamps.  Plants are 20 to 45 cm tall and their presence suggests little disturbance.

The species names comes from the pair of stalkless 3-lobed leaves that are held horizontally near the middle of the flowering stem.  The  rest of the leaves are similar to the stem leaves but larger, up to 8 cm, also with pointed lobes.   All the leaves, leaf  stalks and the flowering stem have prominent hairs.  Non-flowering plants are very similar to another saxifrage,Tiarella, or Foam flower.

The white flowers are 4 mm across with 5 fringed petals and 10 stamens. They bloom from late April until early June. The geometry of the flowers is worth seeing with a hand lens.

The fruit is a small capsule, shaped like a miter, that explodes to release a few small black seeds. The plants spread by seed and by rhizomes.

Wisconsinís other Mitella, M. nuda, lacks the two stem leaves and has larger and more fringed flowers than M. diphylla.  Its leaves have rounded lobes and it grows only north of the Tension Zone. M. nuda also prefers wetter conditions than M. diphylla, such as tamarack bogs.

  • Origin of the name: Mitella, L., little miter, a cap with tall peaks in front and back, worn by the Pope and bishops as a mark of office; diphylla, Gr., di-, two, phyll-, leaf
  • Range:  Que. to MN, south to GA, MS
  • WI Range:  Statewide
  • Common associates: Sugar maple, American elm, trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpt
  • Wetland Indicator Status: FACU+
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 10 (S&W), C = 8 (MI)
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