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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Achlys triphylla (Sm.) DC.
Sweet after death, Sweet-after-death, Vanilla leaf
USDA Symbol: ACTR
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
This perennial is a spreading ground cover. Large leaves, divided into three leaflets, rise at close intervals from underground runners and are long-lasting. Stalks, less than 8 in. high, produce numerous tiny, petalless, whitish flowers clustered together in a narrow, fluffy spike. Pairs of low slender stalks grow in patches, one stalk actually a petiole, having at its tip a round leaf blade with 3 broad, fan-shaped leaflets; the other stalk ending in a narrow spike of small white flowers. The dried plants have a vanilla fragrance.
The large, 3-part leaf is unusual, like that of its only close relative, California Vanilla Leaf (A. californica), found nearer the coast, but which generally has 6-8 (rarely up to 12) teeth on the central leaflet.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
CA , OR , WA Canada: BC Native Distribution:
S. B.C. to n.w. CA Native Habitat:
Moist, coastal forests; stream banks USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Vanilla leaf can crowd out other plants but does not compete well with more vigorous ground covers.
Americans used preparations of the leaves of Achlys triphylla to treat tuberculosis, for a hair wash, and as an emetic (D. E. Moermann 1986). Interesting Foliage:
PropagationDescription: Propagate by root divisions or by seed.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Native Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
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Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff