Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum

Prairie Smoke

Geum triflorum

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Dry
Color: Pink, Purple
Fragrance: No
Height: 6 to 18 inches
Spacing: 6 inches


Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) is a native prairie plant whose most distinguishing feature is not the reddish pink to purplish, nodding, globular flowers that bloom in late spring, but the fruiting heads which follow. As the flower fades and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate (to 2 inches long) to form upright, feathery gray tails which collectively resemble a plume or feather duster. The feathery seed tails act as sails in aiding dispersal of the seeds. A soft, hairy plant growing typically to 16 inches tall with fern-like, pinnately divided, green leaves (7-19 leaflets). The blooming period can occur from early to late spring and lasts about 1-2 months. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This wildflower can form small clonal colonies of plants from the rhizomes. A rosette of low basal leaves persists through the winter; these winter leaves are often reddish purple.

Habitats consist of dry gravelly prairies, sand prairies and hill prairies. This conservative species is found in high quality prairies where the vegetation is neither too dense nor tall.

Best grown in dry, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade and prefers some afternoon shade in hot summers. Prefers cool summer climates. May be grown in medium moisture, well-drained soils, but often will die out if subjected to wet winter soil conditions.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Adapted to dry rock gardens.
  The leaves can persist through winter, turning attractive shades of red and crimson.
  Good ground cover.
  Native Americans once boiled the roots to produce a root tea that was used medicinally for a variety of purposes such as wound applications and sore throat treatments.
  Young plants should be kept well-watered during hot summer.
Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries