The photo above shows a close-up of the leathery green leaf of western snake root as seen in leaf litter beneath the Oregon white oaks at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge.......April 9, 2006.
Western snake root is a perennial wildflower with a single stem arising from 25-120 cm high from a taproot. The thick stems range from simple to branchedand are glabrous. The basal leaves are long petioled with the blade orbicular in outline with 3 shallow to deep lobes. The lobes are toothed along the edge, with the teeth each tipped with a bristle. The stem leaves are alternate with the lower leaves well developed and petiolate and the upper leaves reduced in size, sessile and more deeply incised. The blades range from 3-13 cm long and 2-18 cm wide.
The inflorescence is a cluster of several umbellets borne on several short, irregular and thin rays. The bracts at the base of the primary umbel are leaflike. The individual umbellets are 3-10 flowered and subtended by several lanceolate bractlets.The subsessile flowers are yellow or sometimes more or less purplish in color. The fruits are subglobose and covered with stout, hooked prickles. The individual fruits range from 2-5 mm long and 2-4 mm wide.
The leaves and flowers of western snake root would make a nice ground cover in a dryland open forest.
Western snake root may be found in moist to dry, lightly wooded slopes and flatlands from low elevation to moderate elevation in the foothills.
Western snake root may be found from southern British Columbia south along the west side of the Cascade Mts to California and eastward into the Columbia River Gorge where it extends as far east as Klickitat County in south-central Washington.
In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 100'-2200' from east of Washougal, WA eastward to the Klickitat River.