Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla)
It’s nearly impossible to hike in the Cascades without recognizing large drifts of this common plant in the understory, but nearly as rare is seeing it in bloom. The plume full of tiny white flowers floats on its own stem above three large lobed leaves. It shows up for just a brief time in the mid-spring. In the fall, the flowers are replaced by a column of red-purple berries.
The common name refers to the aroma of the dried leaves, with which early homesteaders made sachets to freshen stored clothing. Other common names are ‘deer foot’ and ‘sweet-after-death’