Bishops Cap, Mitella diphylla

Bishops Cap

Mitella diphylla

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Spring
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
Fragrance: No
Height: 1-2 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Bishops Cap (Mitella diphylla) or Twoleaf Miterwort is a woodland species that is found in high quality mesic forests growing on moist, mossy ledges and north-facing slopes. The basal foliage of this plant has long, finely hairy stalks, a cordate shape, and serrated edges (up to 4 inches long). The flowering stalk can reach up to 12 feet tall, with small, white flowers spaced up to 1 inch apart along the stem. A spring bloomer (April-June), the flowers are only 1/8-inch in diameter with five fringed, recurved, white petals, giving the appearance of a snowflake. Best viewed with a magnifying glass or hand lens. Two opposite, nearly clasping leaves are found on the flowering stalk below the flower clusters. Small black seeds are held in open, upward facing mature fruit capsules, and are splash dispersed by raindrops.

The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring. After the blooming period, each flower is replaced by an open capsule that contains many small seeds. These seeds are distributed by raindrop logistics (raindrops striking the capsule cause it to bend and fling some of its seeds). The root system can produce vegetative colonies from rhizomes.

Habitats include upland woodlands, wooded slopes, rocky bluffs, and shady ravines. The substrate of the rocky woodlands where this species occurs can consist of either limestone or sandstone. This species is usually found in high quality woodlands. Bishops Cap is usually found in mesic to dry areas of woodlands where the soil contains abundant organic matter, often where there is rocky ground. Most growth and development occurs during the spring when the soil is normally moist.

Best grown in medium moisture, organically rich, well-draining soils in part shade. Hardy in Zones 3-7. The plants spread slowly by rhizomes so make a wonderful addition to any spring wooded area. Bishops Cap can tolerate drier full shade sites, although its preference is for medium soils and partial sun in the spring months. The preference is dappled sunlight during the spring, otherwise shade is tolerated.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Can tolerate drier soils or full shade conditions.
Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries