Diphylleia cymosa - Umbrella Leaf

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14
Diphylleia cymosa - Umbrella Leaf

An excellent woodlander from Southeastern USA, but perfectly hardy in northern New England, is the Umbrella Leaf of Diphylleia cymosa, a member of the Berberidaceae. It's another of those classic examples of a small genus with one species found in Southeastern USA, and with one or two counterpart species found in Asia.

This plant has been very slow to establish, taking a decade to bulk up into a fine clump, probably because I have it in somewhat dry shade, when the plant prefers more moist conditions. But it never fails to provide a long season of foliar interest, if not amusingly so, as the leaves are indeed like crinkly brown umbrellas when they first emerge, the brown and green mottling lasting for weeks as the leaves expand. The single leaves are large, and reminiscent of Jeffersonia (Twin Leaf) with the mass of each leaf divided into two opposing sides, like big crazy neckties.

The cymes of white flowers are modestly attractive, the blue berries held on colored pedicels, appearing later in summer, are the attraction.

Since the plant can look quite different depending on stage of growth, I have uploaded a photographic sampling, + some interesting links:

distribution map and data sheet
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=DICY2

in Flora of North America (distribution maps on this resource are rather pathetic)
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233500585

Some good photos at the North Carolina Native Plant Society site:
http://www.ncwildflower.org/index.php/plants/details/diphylleia-cymosa

Barry Glick and Sunshine Farm and Gardens site
http://www.sunfarm.com/picks/diphylleiacymosa-115422.phtml

Available at heronswood + good view of the berries:
http://www.heronswood.com/perennials_perennials-d-to-e_diphylleia/diphyl...

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

You're ahead of me, Mark! I think I have both species but neither had shown itself when I left for my cabin Wednesday (a long weekend!).

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Nothing like visiting other gardens to learn from, and sometimes to learn why a plant one is growing is not doing so well.  I had always wondered why Diphylleia cymosa was so slow growing, then discovered in the amazing naturalistic 6-acre garden (not all is cultivated) of George Newman in southern New Hampshire not far from me, that this dang thing is a swamp plant!  Or at least a true moisture lover, growing with it's feet in spongy soil that is constantly moist, in George's garden, at the edge of a swampy location in fairly heavy shade.

There, it grew nearly as tall as humans, with much heavier clusters of berries (still green when I visited on June 12, 2010) triple the abundance than on my impoverished dry shade grown plants, the berry clusters at near eye level.  The leaves seemed monstrously large to me, not quite 2' across, but getting close to that dimension. His plants had none of the red/brown mottling to the foliage, either a different clone, or with much more moisture and shade they green up.

Here's a few photos, on a rainy day, with mosquitoes the size of bats ;D  In the second photo, George is leading the small pack of NARGS members (only 3 of us showed up that day for the garden tour).

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Back in my dryland pseudo-woodland, under an ancient sugar maple, the foliage barely tops 24"-30" (60-75 cm), much smaller in size, distinctly and attractively mottled with brown.  In the dryness, even with daily watering, the plant tends to retreat into early dormancy and shedding some leaves, or stems partly collapsing, although this does not seem to harm it in the long run.  I think I like the plant better in the more austere conditions.

Although, the berries are MUCH FEWER under the drier circumstances.  They are blue, with brilliant red pedicels.  Squeezing the fleshy blue skin off reveals bright red seeds.  I caught an interesting photo with a dragonfly slyly eying a hover fly.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Wow, what a spectacular sight at the garden you visited! 
Actually, I wish mine looked like yours though, which are very beautiful, if not so gigantic... in our conditions, which I assume are even drier (and not helped by the overhanging chokecherry tree), mine is still only putting out 2 leaves and a single bloom, after several years...  :(

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Our NARGS New England Chapter held an seedling sale at the beautiful garden of Frank Simpson in southern New Hampshire.  Frank's garden needs to be featured on this forum sometime; note to myself, photograph this extraordinary garden next spring 2011.  But back to the point of this posting, Frank grows all three Diphylleia species.  There is one American species, D. cymosa, and depending on references cited, there are either one or two additional specie, both Asian.  They are D. grayi, and D. sinensis (syn. D. cymosa ssp. sinensis).  They all look very similar.  Luckily, D. grayi was in fruit, ready to pick, and Frank's allowed me to harvest some.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Came across Elizabeth Zander's Blogspot, which happened to feature Diphylleia cymosa, with two large size images showing just how attractive the leaves and "fruits" are, the light making the red pedicels glow, setting off the blue "berries".  This is a good example on how much better the plants look, and how much more spectacular the fruits can be, when grown with sufficient moisture, as compared to my high and dry garden.  Elizabeth brought parts of this plant in for a show & tell at a recent Berkshire Chapter NARGS meeting, and gave away fresh seed to anyone wanting some... there was considerable interest!

PS. It is nice being close enough to attend two different NARGS Chapter meetings as opportunities allow!

Elizabeth Zander Bogspot - Diphylleia cymosa
http://www.seed-aholic.com/2010/08/diphylleia-cymosa.html
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_s6zXvYC7m2A/TFIlGVuqC0I/AAAAAAAAAZI/5DBcsnArbM...
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_s6zXvYC7m2A/TFIlJX5aruI/AAAAAAAAAZQ/ptzq67SJiu...

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Umbrella Leafs are plants for me. Slugs seem to dislike them at least as much as that the plants get a chance to grow to huge dimensions! I have two plants, I am not sure they are the same species or not. The American and Chinese species are very similar, as Mark tells. I think I bought two different species but I can't tell them apart.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

Another plant to add to the wish list!

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

AmyO
AmyO's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-06

I planted this late last fall...a leftover orphan that had hung around the nursery too long & needed some TLC. It's in the streamside garden in mostly shade under large pines & spruces but will be in constant moisture. So after reading these posts I see it will most likely grow quite large, which is fine, although I really prefer the look of Mark's smaller & interestingly colored form. It will be fun in spring to see what this plant will turn out to look like. Spring is always like that!

Amy Olmsted
Hubbardton, VT, Zone 4

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Welcome to the Forum, Amy!  

Wish I had a stream in my garden.  I make due with a "dry stream."  Well, it actually does drain excess surface water away from the house in the spring before ground thaw.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Pages

Log in or register to post comments