“At Pentecost which brings The Spring, clothed like a bride, When nestling buds unfold their wings,
And Bishop’s Caps have golden rings – Musing upon many things, I sought the woodlands wide.”
Bishop’s Caps (mitella diphylla) are beautiful snow-flake shaped wildflower that I’ve photographed several times in Tennessee. A member of the Saxifrage family, this delicate flower is also known as miterwort – both common names derive from the flower’s resemblance to the hats worn by bishops. The Latin name – mitella diphylla – refers to both a cap (mitella) and the plant’s two leaves (diphylla).
Native to most of the Eastern United States and Canada, Bishop’s Cap is an spring blooming wildflower. It prefers to grow in rich moist woods and along stream banks. They grow up to 16″ tall with several small ( 1/8 inch across) flowers on each stalk. A pair of heart shaped, three-lobed leaves grows halfway up the stalk.
Native Americans found many uses for Bishop’s Cap. The Iroquois used a decoction of the whole plants taken to vomit and as a wash counteract bad luck and an infusion of the plant as drops for sore eyes. The Menominee used the plant in sacred ceremonies.
All of these photos of Bishop’s Cap were taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
More information about Mitella diphylla is available online at