Berberidaceae, the barberry family.
Plant: Low forest plant, 12"-18", rising from a thick rootstock and bearing a single, nodding, white flower between a pair of large, round, deeply lobed leaves. Perennial.
Flowers: Waxy white, 1"-1.5", with six, or sometimes nine petals. There are six sepals, but they fall off as the flower opens, and are not apparent. Approximately two stamens per petal. The flowers are solitary, nodding beneath the crotch of a pair of leaves.
Leaves: Large, 12", round, and deeply 5-9 lobed, with the stem attached at the center. The leaves are distinctive; nothing similar occurs in our area. The non-flowering stems generally bear a single leaf like a parasol.
Fruit: A large, yellow, lemon-shaped berry, 1"-2" long.
Habitat: Deciduous woods
A native, spring woodland flower, but blooming somewhat later than the
earliest (toothwort, bloodroot, spring beauty etc.)
The distinctive leaves poke out of the ground early, and unfurl in an interesting
spiral fashion, somewhat like an umbrella.
The plant typically grows in large patches from underground rootstocks.
The fully ripe (golden yellow) fruits are edible, and are sometimes made into preserves.
However, the green fruit, leaves, and especially the roots are toxic.
The plant is sometimes called "mandrake" on account of the similarity of
its root to that of the European plant of the same name.
Where to find it:
Common in large patches throughout the upper woods of the park.