Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)

Plant Info
Also known as: Old Man's Whiskers
Genus:Geum
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; dry fields, prairies
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:6 to 16 inches
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell

[photo of flowers] 3 flowers on long stalks at the top of a hairy but otherwise naked stem, with a pair of deeply lobed, green to red leafy bracts at the base of the cluster and another along the flower stalk. Each flower is ¾ to 1 inch long, generally red but may be a reddish shade of pink, purple or brown, nods down and remains bud-like when young but becomes erect and opens up after pollination. Mostly hidden under the red sepals are 5 white to pale pink petals. 5 long, narrow, red bracts fly out from near the base. Sepals and floral bracts are hairy on the outer surface.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Basal leaves are 4 to 8 inches long, hairy, divided into 7 or more primary, wedge-shaped leaflets with coarse notches at the tips. One or more smaller leaflets are in between the larger ones. The flowering stem is reddish brown and covered in fine hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] After pollination the flowers become erect, the petals and sepals spreading out. Fruit is a dry seed with a 2-inch long feathery plume. The plumes are reminiscent of smoke blowing in the wind, hence the common name.

Notes:

Prairie Smoke is one of the first prairie flowers to bloom in the spring, a sign that the growing season has begun in Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Grey Cloud Dune SNA, McKnight Prairie, Wild River State Park

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Dustin - Rustic Retreat Wildlife Management Area Mower County
on: 2010-05-09 20:50:14

Thank you for your site. I greatly appreciate its ease of use and loads of information! I saw this plant in bloom along the Shooting Star Bike Trail just on the edge of the WMA. I didn't know what it was at the time but I certainly do now due to your wonderful site!

Posted by: mike - camden state park lynd mn
on: 2010-05-24 15:20:17

take a walk along the ridge and they stick out bright red against the grass. tons of them

Posted by: Nancy - Fort Snelling
on: 2010-09-17 18:19:59

After visiting my father's grave in Ft.Snelling Nat'l Cemetery, we wanted to tour the historical Fort Snelling. It was before Memorial Day and it wasn't open. We walked around the back side of the Fort, and my sister spotted the Prairie Smoke without having ever seen or heard of it! I was ecstatic! It had already developed its seed plumes. Extraordinary!

Posted by: Tom - SW Becker County
on: 2011-06-05 21:14:53

Some of the largest patches I have ever seen of the beautiful plant.

Posted by: Crystal
on: 2011-06-08 20:29:37

have been watching this flower for a month now trying to figure out what is is. finally blooming and ID'd. very pretty flower.

Posted by: lars - battle lake mn ottertail county
on: 2011-06-24 16:55:08

Great site only took minutes to find praire smoke. It was in full bloom with its seed plumes in a pasture on my farm in Ottertail county.

Posted by: Pete - Leota, MN
on: 2012-05-16 00:37:25

I have seen, today, the plant Prairie Smoke in a native prairie pasture in Murray County MN. Also, I am quite sure that Jim Brandenburg, the well known photographer has a photograph and prints of the plant as he saw it in the Luverne, MN fame. His prints can be seen in the Brandenbu rg gallery in Luverne, MN.

Posted by: Mary - SE Grant county south of Hoffman, MN
on: 2013-06-07 09:26:18

On our farm in the virgin prairie. How rare is this plant? so excited to see it on our prairie!

Posted by: Carol - SNA Grey Cloud Dunes, Cottge Grove, MN
on: 2013-06-11 09:00:50

Grey Cloud Dunes, Cottage Grove, on 6/8/13!

Posted by: Joan - Greenbush, MN
on: 2013-06-12 00:43:12

Have a nice clump of Prairie Smoke right in my yard. It was spotted last year when we were experiencing drought conditions & that particular spot of our lawn is sand & gravel based so no mowing was necessary due to lack of moisture. I noticed this clump that appeared to be a flower & I decided to let it grow & found out what it was.

Posted by: Nina - my yard -uptown mpls.
on: 2014-06-14 07:23:57

I added these to a garden plan last year. My landscaper had to search a few nursuries, but found it without much trouble. They are beautiful. An image of the plume now graces my facebook cover photo.

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