Description & Overview

Two-leaf Miterwort is a small Wisconsin native perennial with tiny white, fringed flowers that are held above heart-shaped basal leaves on a hairy stem. Flowers emerge in mid-spring and can easily be overlooked, but up close they are super intricate. They are found throughout the State of Wisconsin, with the exception of a few counties scattered across the state, where they naturally inhabit woodlands with a high level of organic matter with well-draining soil, especially on slopes or bluffs. May also be known as Bishop’s Cap.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 4-16 inches

Mature Spread: 6-9 inches

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Clump - forming, spreading

Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade

Site Requirements: Moderate to dry moisture, well - drained

Flower: White, 1/5" wide, fringed petals look like a snowflake, 2 - 6" inflorescence

Bloom Period: April – June

Foliage: Green basal leaves, heart - shaped. 1 pair of opposite, stalkless on the flower stem

Fall Color: Insignificant

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Seed capsule that splits open to a ‘bowl' of tiny, containing shiny black seeds

Suggested Uses

Thriving in moderately dry to moist, shady areas, Two-leaf Miterwort does well planted in a woodland setting.

A delicate-looking plant with diminutive flowers, accents other low-growing perennials. Its small flowers resemble those of Heuchera.

Slowly spreading via rhizomes, Two-leaf Miterwort is clump-forming and fills in bare areas to make an effective groundcover. Its tiny black seeds are splash-dispersed by raindrops, furthering their spread. Seeds are held in an upward, bowl-shaped reservoir. The seeds are shiny and black. Raindrops hit the bowl, splashing these seeds out of the reservoir, away from the parent plant. In one experiment, water drops falling between 3’4″ and 3’8″ dispersed on average 11.6″ away from the plant. Imagine how far away actual raindrops can spread the seeds!

Two-leaf Miterwort is a small Wisconsin native perennial with tiny white, fringed flowers that are held above heart-shaped basal leaves on a hairy ste…
Two-leaf Miterwort is a small Wisconsin native perennial with tiny white, fringed flowers that are held above heart-shaped basal leaves on a hairy ste…

Wildlife Value

Vinegar flies (Drosophilidae), Tachinid flies (Siphona spp.), Syrphid flies (Allgrapta spp., Sphegina spp.), and ants feed on the nectar from the flowers.

Sweat bees (Lasioglossum spp., Augochlorella spp.), and short-tongued bees collect both nectar and pollen, with Sweat bees being the most common visitors. Due to the lack of a landing platform, large pollinators don’t have easy access to the flowers.

Maintenance Tips

Proper siting is the easiest approach to keeping a happy and healthy plant. Make sure Two-leaf Miterwort is planted in a part shade to full shade area with adequate water. Adding a layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture and keep the roots cool.

Two-leaf Miterwort is a small Wisconsin native perennial with tiny white, fringed flowers that are held above heart-shaped basal leaves on a hairy ste…

Pests/Problems

Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes

Two-leaf Miterwort can be slow to establish, otherwise, there are no known pest or disease issues.

Leaf Lore

The genus Mitella comes from the Greek word mitra which refers to a “cap.” Other sources say it mean’s “little miter” in regard to the shape of the seed capsules resembling a miter, or headdress worn by bishops in Christian sects.

At one time, it was called ‘Coolwort’ because a tea made from the leaves was used to treat fever, likely because of the resemblance of the flower to a snowflake.

Indigenous peoples used Two-leaf Miterwort medicinally. The Iroquois made a decoction of the entire plant and used it as an emetic while an infusion was used as eye drops. They also used the plant as a body and rifle wash to ward off bad luck. The Menominee used the seeds as sacred beads, swallowing them during medicine dances and reinstatement ceremonies.

Companion Plants

Plant Two-leaf Miterwort with others that enjoy similar site conditions such as Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia), Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Canada Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Alpine Violet (Viola labradorica), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Large-flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora), Large White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), Prairie Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii), and Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides).

Two-leaf Miterwort is a small Wisconsin native perennial with tiny white, fringed flowers that are held above heart-shaped basal leaves on a hairy ste…
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Written by Beth DeLain