What is this?
The shoe is a toddler size eight, it belongs to my two year old niece. The leaf is much bigger than my shoes (size eleven women's), and can in fact be used as a light sheet for a small child who is average in height for a two-year-old. You can see how the leaf is big enough to hold over your head as an umbrella if you're five (and, in fact, if you're an adult). I took these pictures on Staten Island. I don't think I've ever seen anything with leaves that size in this area, and really, I was under the impression that leaves simply don't get that big this far from the equator! Clearly I was wrong, though, because this year I'm seeing these plants everywhere, and they're growing wild in untended gardens and yards and so. I dug two out of my yard just a while ago. The roots are about the length from the tips of my fingers to my elbow... really, about as long as the leaves. The roots seem to go deep down, they don't spread at all. The outer part of the root is fairly easy to split open, leaving an inner "core". Each plant (they're not very clear pictures) has a good double dozen of those leaves flopping all over the place. At the bottom of the leaf, when you pull it up, there are white strands that easily pull out of the leaf. What is it? (And, better yet - is it useful? I don't want to dig it up if it has a purpose, that's hard work!) Edit: Found it, I think it's burdock. Rhubarb, as somebody else suggested, is unlikely - the stems are too short and the leave too big. And elephant ears doesn't look right either, especially the root. But burdock seems the thing - and looking closely at pictures of burdock in a later stage of development, I think I've seen this plant around before! Somehow, I just never noticed the huge leaves at the ground earlier :) Thank you so much!