Geum triflorum Pursh
Old Man's Whiskers, Prairie Smoke, Purple Avens
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
USDA Symbol: GETR
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Fruit Type: Achene , Aggregate
Size Notes: Up to about 18 inches tall.
Fruit: Aggregated achenes.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Red , Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Geum triflorum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Geum triflorum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Geum triflorum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-13
Research By: TWC Staff