Forest Wildflowers - White

 
A collage of Crevice Alumroot images, with the full plant on the left side. The right side of the image is split with a detail of the flower on top, detail of leaves on bottom.
Crevice Alumroot

NPS Photo

Alumroot, Crevice
Heuchera micrantha

This plant has tall, branched flowering stems, with numerous tiny white flowers. Leaves basal, lobed, and mildly-toothed. Found on drier, rocky banks and cliffs below 5,000 feet (1,500 m).

 
A cluster of lobed green leaves grown out of a crack in a rock face, with a long stem of tiny white flowers. An inset photo in the upper right corner shows a detail of the small flowers.
Smooth Alumroot, with detail of flowers.

NPS Photo

Alumroot, Smooth
Heuchera glabra

Similar to crevice alumroot, this plant has branched flowering stems, with numerous tiny white flowers. Leaves basal, five-lobed, and sharply-toothed. Found on moist, rocky banks and cliffs below 5,000 feet (1,500 m).

 
A green stem with a series of white blooms along its length.
White Bog-Orchid

NPS Photo

Bog-Orchid, White
Platanthera leucostachys

Distinguished by white blooms, unlike the green blooms of the related but more common slender bog-orchid (Platanthera stricta). Stems are very leafy and up 30 inches (80 cm) tall. Found in wet meadows up to 4,500 feet (1,400 m).

 
Bunchberry
Bunchberry/Dwarf Dogwood

NPS/Emily Brouwer Photo

Bunchberry
Cornus canadensis

Also known as dwarf dogwood, this common flower has whorls of leaves centered around four white petal-like bracts, while the actual flowers are small and greenish-white. Found in forests up to 3,500 feet (1,066 m).

 
Candyflower
Candyflower

NPS Photo

Candyflower
Claytonia sibirica

Also known as siberian miner's-lettuce, this small-flowered plant has long-stemmed oval basal leaves in addition to paired leaves going up the stem. The flower petals are distinguished by faint pink stripes or can sometimes appear pinkish in color. It is common in moist forests up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m).

 
Sweet Coltsfoot
Sweet Coltsfoot

NPS Photo

Coltsfoot, Sweet
Petasites frigidus

One of the first flowers to appear in spring, this plant is marked by its single, stout flowering stem, topped with a large ball of composite white flowers. The stem can be 16 inches (40 cm) tall with short, clasping leaves. Large, toothed lobed leaves with wooly undersides also emerge directly from the rootstock on short stalks. Common in wet areas, particularly along streams and roads.

 
A disc of white flowers on a tall leafy stem.
Cow-parsnip

NPS Photo

Cow-parsnip

Heracleum lanatum

This perennial can grow very large, with hairy stems 3-9 feet (1-3 m) tall intersperesed with stalked, compound, palmately-lobed leaves. Each stem is topped with a wide, flat disc of numerous white flowers. A very common plant along roadsides at lower elevations. NOTE: Cow-parsnip contains furanocoumarins, a phototoxic (reacts to sunlight) substance which can cause rashes and blisters if it comes into contact with skin. It is related to giant hogweed (H. mantegazzianum), an extremely phototoxic and noxious weed that is not found in the park.

 
A plant with a stout stem, large leaves, and a top cluster of pale white flowers. An inset image shows details of flower clusters.
Devil's Club with inset image showing flower details.

NPS Photo

Devil's Club
Oplopanax horridus

Devil's club is a shrub-like plant with woody stems that can be 3-9 feet (1-3 m) tall and covered in yellow spines up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. Each thorny stem supports large maple-shaped leaves, also with thorns, and topped with a pyramidal stalk of numerous small flowers. Flowers are greenish-white, and become red berries. Devil's club can be found in large thickets in lowland forest, bordering creeks and growing in other wet areas. This thorn-covered shrub has thwarted many a hiker, but it also has many medicinal properties highly valued by native peoples.

 
A cluster of white thread-like flowers next to a photo of deeply-lobed leaves.
False Bugbane flowers (left) and leaves (right).

NPS Photo

False Bugbane
Trautvetteria caroliniensis

Also known as tassel-rue, this wildflower does not have petals but a ball of white, tassel-like stamens and styles. Leaves are toothed and deeply lobed. Found in forests up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m).

 
False Solomon's Seal
False Solomon's Seal

NPS, Bev Killam

False Solomon's Seal
Smilacina racemosa

Broad leaves alternate along the stem of this plant, with flowers clustered at the terminal of the stem. Flowers give way to red berries. Fairly common in lower elevations, up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m), in moist woods and along stream banks.

 
Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal
Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal

NPS Photo

False Solomon's Seal, Star-flowered
Smilacina stellata

Alternating leaves very similar to the related species false Solomon's seal (S. racemosa), but with only a few (5-10) star-like flowers in a short terminal cluster at the end of the stem. Similar habitat as S. racemosa, but more common in the park, particularly at Box Canyon.

 
Foamflower
Foamflower

NPS Photo

Foamflower
Tiarella trifoliata

Very common in moist forests, often forming dense carpets sprinkled with clusters of tiny white flowers like "specks of foam". Leaves mostly basal with three, toothed lobes.

 
Goat's Beard
Goat's Beard

NPS Photo

Goat's Beard
Aruncus dioicus

This perennial plant can be mistaken for a shrub, with robust stems 3-6 feet (1-2 m) tall. Leaves divided, with toothed leaflets, and flowers cluster on long, drooping stems. Common up to about 4,000 feet (1,219 m) along wet cliffs, open wooded banks, and roadsides.

 
Hooded Ladies' Tresses
Hooded Ladies' Tresses

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Hooded Ladies' Tresses
Spiranthes romanzoffiana

This plant features geometrically precise flowers arranged in rows of three twisting around the stem. Leaves are slender and mostly basal. Typically found in wet meadows, such as the Longmire Meadow, though can also colonize open, disturbed ground.

 
Several flowers with backwards white petals against green leaves.
Inside-Out Flower

NPS/C. Vecchio Photo

Inside-out Flower
Vancouveria hexandra

It's easy to see how this plant got its name, with flowers that look "inside-out". The white petals turn backwards, instead of cupping around the pistil and stamens. Leaves are compound, with rounded, roughly three-lobed leaflets. Grows in low elevation forests.

 
Large-leaf Sandwort
Large-leaf Sandwort

NPS Photo

Large-leaf Sandwort

Moehringia macrophylla

This plant has several leafy stems branching from spreading rootstock. Leaves are slender and lance-shaped, and each stem supports 2-6 white flowers. Common in moist, shady areas up to about 6,000 feet (1,800 m).

 
Pathfinder
Pathfinder leaves (left) and flower (right).

NPS Photo

Pathfinder
Adenocaulon bicolor

This common forest plant is also called trail plant because the leaves can be flipped over, their silvery, fuzzy undersides marking the way. Leaves triangular in shape with wavy edges and mostly basal, while the flower stem is 12-40 inches (30-100 cm) tall. Tiny white flowers form a disk with only the outer flowers fertile, maturing to form a stalked glandular seed.

 
Queen's Cup
Queen's Cup

NPS Photo

Queen's Cup
Clintonia uniflora

Very common in deep forest below 5,000 feet (1,500 m) elevation, this plant has a single large white flower framed by 2-3 glossy leaves. The flower produces a single dark blue berry.

 
A leggy, tall shrub in the undergrowth of a forest supporting scattered clumps of white flowers. An inset image in the lower right shows a detail of a flower.
Red Elderberry

NPS Photo

Red Elderberry
Sambucus racemosa

A tall shrub up to 16 feet (5 m) high, with clusters of small white flowers that turn into bright red berries. Leaves are hairy on the underside with 5-7 leaflets. Common in wet, low elevation forests.

 
Several pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers hang off a stem surrounded by dark green leaves.
Salal

NPS Photo

Salal
Gaultheria shallon

This abundant shrub is a common ground cover in Mount Rainier's forests. Usually about 3 feet (1 m) tall, it can grow into thickets up to 6 feet (2 m) tall. Leaves are tough and dark green, oval-shaped with sharp points, and toothed margins. Flowers are bell-shaped, pinkish-white, and hang off one side of a long stem.
 
Nelson's Brook Saxifrage with an inset showing an enlarged photo of the flower.
Nelson's Brook Saxifrage; inset in upper left corner shows detail of flower.

NPS Photo

Saxifrage, Nelson's Brook
Saxifraga nelsoniana ssp. cascadensis

This plant has broad, toothed basal leaves. Leaf stalks are hairless, but the stems of the flowers have long hairs and can be reddish in color. Flower petals are white with no spots. Common in the park up to 6,000 feet (1,829 m) in rocks around water, particularly near Mowich Lake.

 
Rusty Saxifrage with inset showing close-up of flower.
Rusty Saxifrage, with close-up of flower (inset).

NPS Photo

Saxifrage, Rusty
Saxifraga ferruginea

Also known as Alaska saxifrage, this plant has mostly basal leaves with branched flowering stems 4-12 inches (10-30 cm) tall. Flowers are irregular, with 3 larger petals with two yellow spots and two smaller petals without spots. Petals are also distinctly stalked. Look for this flower along wet cliffs, mossy rock outcrops, and stream banks in mid to low elevations.

 
Yellow-dot Saxifrage (left), with close-up of flowers (right).
Yellow-dot Saxifrage (left), with close-up of its spotted flowers (right).

NPS Photo

Saxifrage, Yellow-dot
Saxifraga bronchialis ssp. austromontana

Less common than rusty saxifrage, this plant can still be found in the park in drier, rocky places, usually in shade, between 3,000-8,000 feet (914-2,438 m). Flowers have yellow to orange spots, supported on branched stems 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) tall.

 
Thimbleberry
Thimbleberry

NPS Photo

Thimbleberry
Rubus parviflorus

This common shrub has woody stems with dark brown shredding bark and no thorns. Leaves have 3-5 fine toothed lobes and flowers are white, in clusters of 2-9. Thimbleberry fruit is edible, similar to raspberries. Found in moist woods up to 4,000 feet (1,219 m).

 
Three white flowers against dark vegetation.
Three-leaved Anemone

NPS Photo

Three-leaved Anemone
Anemone deltoidea

Also known as Columbian wildflower, this plant has a white, five-petaled flower on a single stalk, rising above three, toothed basal leaves that give it its name. Common in moist forest at low elevations, particularly on the west side of the park.

 
A cluster of Vanilla Leaf plants carpeting the ground.
Vanilla Leaf

NPS Photo

Vanilla Leaf
Achlys triphylla

This widespread plant can be found throughout the park, particularly along roadsides. Leaves have three fan-shaped bluntly-toothed leaflets, supported on stalks about 4-12 inches (10-30 cm) tall. Numerous tiny flowers rise above the leaves in a white spike.

 
A plant with compound, toothed leaflets and a cluster of small white flowers.
Water Parsley

NPS Photo

Water Parsley
Oenanthe sarmentosa

Similar to the parsley herb, this plant has compound leaves with toothed leaflets. The leaves grow on relaxed stems reaching 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) high, topped in small white flowers. Common in shallow standing water and slow-moving streams at low elevations.

 
Western Trillium
Western Trillium

NPS Photo

Western Trillium
Trillium ovatum

This easily-recognizable and early-blooming flower features three leaves at the top of the stem framing a single flower with three large white petals. Very common throughout the park up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m).

 
Wild Strawberry
Wild Strawberry

NPS Photo

Wild Strawberry
Fragaria vesca

Much smaller than their agriculturally-grown relatives, wild strawberries produce bright red fruit less than half an inch (approx. 8 mm) long. Leaves are split into three, toothed, hairy leaflets. Commonly found growing in spreading patches in open woods, and along roadsides and trails.

 
A plant topped in white clusters of flowers and feathery pale green leaves.
Yarrow

NPS Photo

Yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Yarrow is a common plant not just at Mount Rainier National Park, but throughout the northern hemisphere. They are hairy overall with finely divided, feathery leaves. Flowerheads are arranged in flat-topped clusters of numerous, tiny white flowers. Found from low to subalpine elevations, often in disturbed ground or drier soils.

Last updated: January 27, 2021

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