Geum canadense (White Avens)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; thickets, woods
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
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

[photo of flower] 1 to 3 long-stalked flowers at the top of the stem and arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. Flowers are ½ inch wide with 5 white rounded petals, alternating with 5 pointed green sepals, as long as or shorter than the petals and dark green but pale around the edges. Numerous creamy tipped stamens surround a dome-shaped center covered with numerous thick green styles.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] Basal leaves are long stalked and compound with 3 to 7 leaflets. Leaflets are coarsely toothed variably hairy. The end leaflet is the largest, up to 4 inches long and 3 inches across, often lobed in 2 or 3 parts in the lower plant. Lateral leaflets are variable in shape but mostly oval to diamond shaped.

[photo of leaves] Stem leaves are mostly palmately compound in 3s, becoming smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem, eventually becoming simple in the flower cluster. Stems are slightly hairy and may feel rough, mostly erect with a few branches in the upper plant.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota County.


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

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2014-07-13 00:19:06

This plant was in flower on a partly-shaded slope (an oak savanna restoration area)at Ottawa Bluffs Preserve (The Nature Conservancy)in Le Sueur County on July 3.

Posted by: grikdog - St. Paul
on: 2015-06-26 22:22:19

This plant has started popping up in my yard, garden. I am not sure how much I like it yet. A few is OK but I don't want it taking over.

Posted by: Suzanne - Bloomington
on: 2016-07-03 13:18:06

Found this growing under the pine trees in my back yard along with a lot of other plants (weeds/vines) that I'm still trying to identify.

Posted by: Amy - Minnetonka
on: 2017-04-09 10:48:44

I'm on a woody, shaded lot and have been removing mass amounts of buckthorn over the last 3 years. As I was pulling some early garlic mustard this spring, I ran across quite a few of these. As I'm hoping to replenish the lot with natives, I've decided to leave it and see what happens.

Posted by: L. Dale - Webster in Rice county
on: 2017-06-16 19:00:37

Seems to be quite widespread here in area we don't mow often.

Posted by: Cindy - Oakdale
on: 2017-07-12 22:31:46

This started popping up in my woody backyard last it is everywhere. Not appreciating it much as it is scraggly and the flowers are almost invisible. I left it last year because I thought it might be a nice addition to our wild gardens, but it spreads too fast.

Posted by: Devon Harle - Winona, MN
on: 2019-07-03 11:22:01

This plant is proliferating madly this year. You don't really want it near your paths! We're up on the bluff above Winona.

Posted by: Theo Kozel - MINNEAPOLIS
on: 2019-07-11 09:36:19

This plant showed up as a volunteer in my front garden! I suspect it was a stowaway in one of my native plantings, which include Joe Pye Weed, Butterfly Weed, Queen of the Prairie, Prairie Smoke and coreopsis. Amazingly enough I resisted the urge to pull them (since I did not recognize the foliage) and now that they have flowered I know exactly what they are!

Posted by: Diane Millner - Goodhue co.
on: 2019-07-13 17:53:28

Does anyone know if this plant is used as a host to any moth or butterfly?

Posted by: Molly McGuire - Winona
on: 2020-06-16 09:41:52

To answer Diane's question: From "The flowers attract various insects, including bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. These insects suck nectar; some bees also collect pollen, while Syrphid flies often feed on the pollen. ... the larvae of a moth, Tinagma obscurofasciella, mine the leaves."

Posted by: Pamela Eyden - Farmers Park near Stockton, Minn.
on: 2020-06-19 13:38:32

This delicate thing was growing on the streambank,surrounded by wild parsnip and other plants about the same height.

Posted by: Steve Fester - Roseville
on: 2020-06-28 14:52:21

I saw quite a few flowering yesterday at Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, as well as Carley State Park.

Posted by: William Brown - Grant
on: 2021-04-11 10:43:32

I've been clearing invasives from my wooded property since fall 2017 starting with buckthorn. I've given this a pass since it's native and I have my hands full with the aliens but there sure are a lot of them and they seem to be spreading. I haven't planted anything yet so there is still a lot of bare ground for them to do so. Anyone know how they'll compete once they have more competition from other natives?

Posted by: Teri McNamara - Hennepin County
on: 2021-06-12 17:04:48

My question is similar to William's. I first noticed this last year and didn't pull it right away. I'm trying to convert our yard to natives, but this is moving in on the Canada Anemone (which is pretty aggressive itself in our yard), and spreading like an invasive. What are the normal companions to White Avens that will stand up to it, rather than being overtaken?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-06-12 17:30:13

I have white avens in my garden. I pull a bunch out every year to keep it in check, or at least cut off seed heads to keep the population down. It usually uproots pretty easily.

Posted by: Catherine Day - Balaton
on: 2022-06-12 15:41:20

I have White Avens (seek app identification) volunteering all over my yard. No idea where seeds would have come from. Never seen it in the 27 years we lived here. Maybe not a weed but it is taking over like one.

Posted by: Frank@mound - Hennepin county
on: 2022-06-21 22:10:55

Several years ago this was found growing behind shrubs, east facing, and identified. It grew alongside Ranunculus crowfoot and creeping Charlie among other things. Took out the shrubs and potted up the white avens. It has yet to spread from those pots. I believe it has an affinity for moist mineral-clay soils. Compaction is not a problem. My property's upland is fairly dry and I have yet to see it around. For those asking what can stand up to it -consider Virginia Waterleaf for woodland restoration. Woodland geranium, zig zag goldenrod too. There's plenty that will work with it

Posted by: Anita Hall - West Bloomington
on: 2022-07-20 20:08:26

I adopted the "no mow May" and extended it into June as well. White avens started to pop up all over the shaded areas of my yard. I'm leaving it alone along the margin of the wooded area of the lot and pulling it from the remaining yard and from my garden beds.

Posted by: Burlton Griffith
on: 2022-07-24 17:11:29

Native gardeners: Geum canadense does not proliferate without renewed soil disturbance (it will slowly disappear among longer lived plants until soil disturbance brings forth some banked seeds). If you need to pull weeds, always keep a packet of disturbance loving plant seed in your pocket to sow in the freshly disturbed soil. Then you can have Aquilegia, Lobelia, Fragaria, Rudbeckia, Scutellaria, Silene, Delphinium, Geum, etc knit your plant matrix back together.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the spammers out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.