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Geum triflorum (Old man's whiskers)
Smith, R.W.

Geum triflorum

Geum triflorum Pursh

Old Man's Whiskers, Prairie Smoke, Purple Avens

Rosaceae (Rose Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

This is an attractive, 6-18 in. plant with foot-wide, basal clumps of ferny, blue-green, hairy leaves and reddish-purple, bell-shaped flowers that hang in groups of three. Clumps of feathery, plumed, pink-gray fruits stay on the plant much of the summer. The leaves of prairie smoke turn deep red in fall and are sometimes evergreen.

After fertilization, the bell-like flowers turn upward and plumes begin to grow from the pistils, ready to be caught by the wind or a passing animal and the seed so dispersed.


From the Image Gallery

43 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Achene , Aggregate
Size Notes: Up to about 18 inches tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Aggregated achenes.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Red , Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AZ , CA , CO , IA , ID , IL , MI , MN , MT , ND , NM , NV , NY , OR , SD , UT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: AB , MB , ON , SK
Native Distribution: NY & s. Ont. to Alt., s. to n. IL, the Dakotas & sporadically in the Rockies; extending w. to B.C. & CA as vars. ciliatum & campanulatum
Native Habitat: Dry, open woods; prairies; open slopes; mt. meadows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Thin soil over limestone.
Conditions Comments: Mature plants frequently form dense mats creating an attractive ground cover. In addition to the soil preference listed, prairie smoke is known to occur on rich prairie loams, clay and sand.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies


Description: Prairie smoke can be grown from seeds or from divisions. Rhizome cuttings or divisions of mature plants should be done in late summer or early spring.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds in late spring or early summer.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary though stratification increases the germination rate.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Geum triflorum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Geum triflorum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Geum triflorum


Record Modified: 2023-02-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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