Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)
|Also known as:||Old Man's Whiskers|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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.
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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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?