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 sheethttp://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 sitehttp://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...