Pathfinder as photographed along the Angel's Rest Trail, western Columbia River Gorge ............June 24, 1990.
Pathfinder is a perennial herb with fibrous roots with a single stem arising from 60-100 cm high. The leaves are simple and largely basal. Individual leaves are broadly triangular to heart-shaped with bright green upper surfaces and white-woolly lower surfaces. They measure from 10-30 cm long and 3-15 cm wide. The margins are smooth to coarsely toothed or shallowly lobed. The stem leaves are alternate, with the uppermost leaves scalelike in appearance.
Up to a dozen flower heads are grouped in an open, racemiform inflorescence at the apex of the stem. Individual flower heads are borne at the ends of long, ascending stalks originating from the main stem. The involucral bracts are up to 2 mm long with the bracts green and hairless. The white flowers are only disk flowers, with only the outer 3-7 flowers fertile. The fruits are club-shaped achenes measuring from 5-8 mm long with stalked glands on the upper portion of the achene.
Pathfinder probably derives its name due to the contrasting coloration of its upper and lower leaf surfaces. As one walks along, the long stalked blades may be flipped so that the white lower surface points in the direction one walked towards.
Pathfinder may be found in moist, shady forests from low to moderate elevations.
Pathfinder may be found from southern British Columbia south through Washington and Oregon to California and east to northern Idaho and northwestern Montana. It may also be found in northern Michigan and northern Minnesota.
In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 100'-4000' between Beacon Rock and Burdoin Mt.