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Snowflakes by design: Mitella diphylla

Myriads of Mitella diphylla flowers are still falling from the sky. I noticed that not too many people are familiar with this dainty North American woodlander; what a pity…

It can be found in deciduous woodlands in part shaded areas, most often at the edges of the forest; easily noticeable despite its small flowers, it will flower somewhere at the beginning of May. A better timetable is to consider that it flowers at the same time with Trillium grandiflorum, Uvularia grandiflora and Coptis trifolia.

Mitella diphylla, Two-leaved bishop’s cap (Fam. Saxifragaceae) – Tall flowering stems carrying small, fringed, snowflakes shaped flowers above a pair of leaves. Fruits are dehiscent capsules with many small, black seeds.

Mitella is not an easy subject to capture on camera

What I like even more about it is that the basal leaves are evergreen; a most useful character in our climate with long flowerless periods. I cannot take a picture in the garden right now, but I have one from the previous garden showing it together with Cyclamen hederifolium and Hepatica in late November.

Mitella diphylla, Cyclamen and Hepatica foliage in November

Propagation: easy from seeds (sown in the fall) and mine has started to flower in the third year. After it gets established it can also be divided (it forms a rather tight clump so there is no worry about potential invasiveness).

Mitella diphylla seeds

The genus name Mitella comes from the Greek ‘mitra’= cap and the common name bishop’s cap or mitrewort refers to the cap-shaped fruit.