A very common low to middle elevation forest plant, where it forms large colonies, Vanilla Leaf is a member of the Barberry family and thus related to Oregon-grape. It is easily recognized by the large rounded leaves, divided into three lobes. In the photo the spike of fruits is ripening into a characteristic reddish-purple color.
The flowers are borne in a tall spike, adding splashes of color to the forest understory where this species grows. They lack petals and sepals; the color is from a profusion of stamens.
The leaflets are toothed and up to four inches in length.