In this weather, its hard to believe anyone could have a problem with shade. Heat waves one minute, giant storms the next, it all makes me want to run for cover! But shady backyards can pose a problem for the best city gardner.
Enter twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). Its a great native plant that can thrive in the shade. When it flowers - don't blink, you might miss it - it has a single white flower. You'll notice that it's leafless stalk is topped by, you guessed it, a leaf divided lengthwise into two twin halves. It is a short plant that will add a lush green to your space.
On a historical note - the plant was named for Thomas Jefferson by his friend, William Bartram, and, besides the United States, is only found in Japan. Native Americans are said to have used the roots to ease cramps, treat liver problems & urinary infections, and as a gargle for sore throats. Early Americans also used it to cure many of the same ills, but don't get any ideas - the plant is now considered poisonous!
It is listed as endangered in Georgia and New Jersey, and threatened in Iowa and here in New York. Planting it in your garden not only adds beauty but also helps keep this little guy around.