In late May and early June you may see a whorl of heart-shaped leaves in the woods and wonder what they are.
Look closely at my photo and you’ll see two whorls — 5 big leaves below and 4 smaller out-of-focus leaves further up the stem — then the stem arcs out of view. What you can’t see are the tiny flowers. They’re visible on little stems in Dianne Machesney’s photo below.
The plant used to mystify me until I learned its identity.
Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) is a relative of the sweet potato. We don’t eat its roots anymore but they came in handy during desperate times in the colonial period. I’ll bet they taste bad.
I like the plant because it’s pretty. I remember it as a mystery.
(photos by Kate St. John and Dianne Machesney)