Umbrella Leaf (Diphylleia cymosa) is a rarely seen Smoky Mountains wildflower and a relative of the more familiar May-apple. It can grow to three feet tall with large leaves spanning 24 inches. It favors damp conditions and deep shade, and so can be found in steep mountain coves with shallow seeps. Perfect conditions exist along the upper switchbacks along the Kanati Fork Trail, where these photos were taken in late April.
Umbrella leaf puts on a second attractive display when the stunning blue berries ripen later during the summer. This wildflower grows only in the southern Appalachian mountains.
If you are visiting the Smoky Mountains, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail in Gatlinburg. There may be a special Smokies memory there for you to take back home! And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, you may enjoy the Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community on Facebook, where we share photos and tips on identification and flower sightings.