Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)

Plant Info
Also known as: Old Man's Whiskers
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry fields, prairies
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:6 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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.


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


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.

Posted by: Pete - Leota MN
on: 2015-02-28 13:14:44

I have seen the prints of Mr. Brandenburg in Luverne, MN, but I also have seen the plants on the Buffalo Ridge in Murray County on private property. Mr Brandenburg show us the beauty of the plant with his photography.

Posted by: Carol-Ann - Lac qui Parle State Park, sw MN
on: 2015-05-10 18:32:27

We saw a few Prairie Smokes starting to bloom 4/26/15 - beautiful to see there's still some prairie flowers to admire in the wild.

Posted by: Laurie - Robert and Marilyn Burman WMA
on: 2016-05-30 06:33:32

Found a ton of these today while hiking in the WMA! Love this plant!

Posted by: Kay - A few miles west of Sauk Centre,along the Lake Wobegon Trail
on: 2016-06-14 10:17:28

I have seen these flowers before at the Ordway Prairie, near Brooten, Mn, but I was surprised to find this small patch of them so close to home.

Posted by: Shannon - Park Rapids
on: 2016-06-22 13:06:24

These are pretty wild all over Park Rapids, I've seen them growing in uncultivated vacant lots mostly. My friend found some along the Heartland Trail today. They're so beautiful, very airy and light!

Posted by: Rick M - Albert Lea
on: 2017-05-06 21:11:15

I planted a few of these in one of my gardens last year...2016.

Posted by: Kevin M - Dayton, MN
on: 2017-05-06 21:26:35

Found a couple dozen plants at Cloquet Overlook Park in their small prairie section. Section was recently burned.

Posted by: Jon - Camden State Park
on: 2017-06-10 14:40:43

Many in prairie on west side of park

Posted by: Willis R - Moorhead
on: 2017-07-17 17:22:38

Many plants blooming in the reserve just east of Felton MN on a sandy ridge. ( Blooms late May early June ) keeep your eyes open for white lady slippers also.

Posted by: Mary C - Beaver Creek
on: 2017-07-18 08:57:37

Recently I purchased a Prairie Smoke from a private owner in Ramsey selling mostly hostas. I was so excited to come across this beautiful flower in a pot waiting for a home. It was the only one she had. She told me she keeps it in shade but I assured her it was a prairie flower and should love the sun. I decided to finally do some research about it and found your it needs to be planted soon. Our neighbors used to have a flower shop that was named Prairie Smoke. Also, Jim Brandenburg has gallery near here in Luverne. One of my favorite photos is the Prairie Smoke plant and a print is hanging on my wall.

Posted by: Kelly Doyle - Blue Mounds State Park - Luverne, MN
on: 2018-06-12 12:27:33

Found a few on the Western Loop trail

Posted by: Brandie Hanson - Clitherall, Minnesota
on: 2018-07-21 08:10:30

This was last year. I went up to my Dad's pasture and found he didn't let his cattle roam it at all the previous years and that spring. The whole back hill where there's no trees was just covered in Prairie Smoke. As well as a flourishing patch of Wild Colombine at the tree line and in the woods there was a large patch of yellow Lady Slippers. Sadly this year he let the cattle roam and there was none to be found. Although when he retires, I'm sure we'll see a resurrgence of the plant based on what I've read about it. I also took some home and planted it in my garden. It didn't flower this year but it looks to be going strong so I'm hoping next year I can get some seeds.

Posted by: Kevin McKinney - Crow-Hassan of Three Rivers Regional Park
on: 2018-10-27 18:26:08

Found a couple of patches of Prairie Smoke in May 2018. Patches are located East and North of Prairie Lake along the turf trail.

Posted by: Kathleen Zusan - Saint Paul
on: 2019-06-21 10:11:28

On the Trout Creek Trail south of Maryland Avenue. I think they are stunning in seed form.

Posted by: Karen Moon - Marshall, MN
on: 2019-07-22 12:37:11

Is prairie snake an invasive plant at all. Also I had two tigers eye bushes and had to remove them as they were send shoots all over the yard. We remove all roots from the bush but some of the shooters are still popping up plants. Any help on getting rid of these would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-07-22 13:55:12

Karen, prairie smoke does not send up shoots from rhizomes or stolons. While it may be abundant in favorable conditions, it is not known to crowd out other plants. I don't know what tigers eye bush is or anything about controlling it.

Posted by: Karen - White Bear Lake
on: 2020-04-29 20:57:03

I think Tiger eye bush is a form of sumac that is bright lime green and quite beautiful. However, as a sumac it spreads by underground rhizomes that are hard to get rid of.

Posted by: Mike and Amy - Larsmont, Lake County, MN
on: 2020-06-12 07:24:36

On tops of Lake Superior bluffs in dry rocky areas, interspersed with Daisy, Columbine, other grasses.

Posted by: Brett W. - Sherburne County
on: 2021-12-10 23:12:03

Just wanted to document it here in abundance in (SE Unit) of Uncas. Have not seen it in the Main Unit which surprises me as I think about it.

Posted by: Carol Hepokoski - Iron Range
on: 2022-05-24 13:51:42

I have prairie smoke in my garden as well as another plant/weed that looks similar and appears to intermix with it. It's not the new growth but something else that never flowers. Any idea what it might be?

Posted by: Linda - My garden in Minneapolis
on: 2022-06-14 17:05:36

I first discovered this plant at a community garden about 20 years ago and marveled at how it bloomed in the snow! Over the years the same patch blooms now in late May. I have planted some in my home garden because I love the unique flowers, the "old man's whiskers" after it blooms, and the beautiful foliage.

Posted by: Calandria Olson - Koochiching County
on: 2024-02-13 15:27:27

Was super surprised to find prairie smoke growing in Koochiching! It was back on the Haney road alongside all the Lady's Slippers.

Posted by: Charles Argue - St. Paul
on: 2024-05-03 14:32:47

One plant blooming 28 April 2024 on south-facing slope at Pillow Bank Hills SNA, Lac qui Parle County

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