Attracted by the unique tissue and functions of leaves, a natural carbonized leaf (CL) is presented as a polysulfide diffusion inhibitor in lithium–sulfur (Li–S) batteries. The CL that is covered on the pure sulfur cathode effectively suppresses the polysulfide shuttling mechanism and enables the use of pure sulfur as the cathode. A low charge resistance and a high discharge capacity of 1320 mA h g−1 arise from the improved cell conductivity due to the innately integral conductive carbon network of the CL. The unique microstructure of CL leads to a high discharge/charge efficiency of >98 %, low capacity fade of 0.18 % per cycle, and good long-term cyclability over 150 cycles. The structural gradient and the micro/mesoporous adsorption sites of CL effectively intercept/trap the migrating polysulfides and facilitate their reutilization. The green CL polysulfide diffusion inhibitor thus offers a viable approach for developing high-performance lithium-sulfur batteries.