Hi Dr. Hill,
I found this unusual plant while on a hike in Clemsons experimental forest here in South Carolina. I found this plant on the woodland floor in deep shade adjacent to three other identical plants. The plant was approximately ~15 inches tall with a spread of ~10 inches.
Thank you for your help!
this is a young buckeye sapling with the leaves just emerging. In our area, probably dwarf buckeye, Aesculus sylvatica. See: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/aesculus-sylvatica/
Dr. Steven Hill, Botanist, SCNPS