Vanillaleaf as seen above Angels Rest in the Columbia River Gorge .........May 18, 2009.
Vanilla is an attractive, rhizomatous perennial with single, long-petiolate and ternate (3 leaflets) leaves which are fan-shaped with coarsely-toothed leaf edges. The leaf blade is roughly 5-20 cm wide, with the whole leaf ranging from 10-30 cm long. Dry leaves smell of vanilla.
The flower scape is separate from the leaf and ranges from 20-40 cm tall. The apex of the stem bears a dense spike (2.5-5 cm long) of tiny white flowers consisting of stamens and pistlis but no petals nor sepals.
Vanilla leaf is most commonly found in deep, undisturbed forests, but may also found in the open along streams.
Vanilla leaf may be found from British Columbia from the eastern base of the Cascades west to the coast, and south to Sherman and Wasco counties, Oregon, and south on the western side of the Cascades of Oregon to northwestern California.
In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found east of Troutdale, OR to approximately adjacent to Hood River, OR. It may be found in the gorge between the elevations of 100'-4800'.