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American Umbrella Leaf, Umbrella-leaf - Diphylleia cymosa


Family: Berberidaceae - Barberry family Genus Common Name: Umbrellaleaf Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Diphylleia cymosa - American Umbrella Leaf, Umbrella-leaf. Diphylleia is a small genus with only three species; two are Asian and only Diphylleia cymosa - American Umbrella Leaf - is found in North America. It is endemic to the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachians, found in moist areas such as seepages and stream banks in hardwood forests and coves, usually at altitudes of more than 2,000 feet, up to 5,000 feet or higher. The area where it grows was part of the original Cherokee native American territory; it is reported that they used it as a disinfectant.

Found in:
AL, GA, NC, SC, TN, VA

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Diphylleia cymosa

Distribution of Diphylleia cymosa in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Sep 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Little River Trail, Elkmont Area Date: 2015-May-04Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The inflorescence of Diphylleia cymosa is a cyme, as indicated by the species epithet. The center flower opens first. In this photo you can see that the more central flowers are "older" than the edge flowers.
Diphylleia cymosa

Site: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Little River Trail, Elkmont Area Date: 2015-May-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Flowers of Diphylleia are three-merous - having parts in increments of three. Diphylleia cymosa has 6 white petals as well as 6 stamens in its inch-wide blossom. One of the Asian species has 9 petals; the other has 12.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Diphylleia cymosa

Site: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Little River Trail, Elkmont Area Date: 2015-May-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Umbrella Leaf stems grow from underground rhizomes, with the plant growing to 4 feet tall or more. The rhizome produce two types of stems, adding one stem per year. The flowering stem type has a pair of leaves, while the non-flowering shoot is terminated in a single leaf, usually somewhat larger than the leaves on the flowering stem. In this photo the leaf on the non-flowering stem appears to be somewhat smaller than the larger of the leaves on the flowering stem - maybe it's the angle. The huge leaf (sometimes 2 feet across!) is divided at the apex and base into two parts, more apparent in the lowest leaf in this photo. Each of the two parts of the leaf has 5 to 9 pointed lobes.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Diphylleia cymosa

Site: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Little River Trail, Elkmont Area Date: 2015-May-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flowering shoot of Umbrella Leaf is glabrous and terminates in the inflorescence.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Diphylleia cymosa

Site: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Little River Trail, Elkmont Area Date: 2015-May-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D700
The leaf margins of Diphylleia are dentate. Some small hairs are apparent in this photo, and the leaf surface may be pubescent, although that is not readily apparent without close (magnified) examination.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Diphylleia cymosa

Site: Blue Ridge Parkway Craggy Gardens Picnic Area, Buncombe County, NC Date: 2015-May-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Later in the season the pedicels in the inflorescence will turn red, and will hold small blue fruits.
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Diphylleia cymosa

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer