Syn.: Erythrocoma triflora (Pursh) Greene, Geum ciliatum var. triflorum (Pursh) Jeps., Sieversia triflora (Pursh) R. Br.
Family: Rosaceae Juss.

Geum triflorum

Distribution: North American species. Found from Yukon to Newfounland and from British Columbia to Oregon to Sierra Nevada in California, to central Arizona and north of New Mexico. In the whole area it is divided into 4 varieties: nominate Geum triflorum var. triflorum found from Alberta to southeast Canada and northeast US, in the west from Montana to Arizona. G. t. var. ciliatum grows in British Columbia and Alberta and south to California. G. t. var. campanulatum must be a montane ecotype from Washington and Oregon and G. t. var. canescens grows in Sierra Nevada and might be present in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Ecology: Mostly dry open prairie grasslands, open woods and their margins, tundra. Blooms April to June.

Description: Perennial herb. Stems 15–50 cm tall, erect, stout rootstock; previous year leaves present. Basal leaves are numerous, 2–20 cm long, compound with 7–19 leaflets; leaflets wedge to oblong to oval, 1–5 cm long, margins toothed or lobed, surface soft-hairy; stem leaves 1–4, deeply lobed. Flower cluster is cyme with usually 3 flower, but can be 1–5 flowered; Flowers purplish pink, nodding, 12–20 mm across; sepals 5, 8–12 mm, purplish pink with spreading tips, sharply lanceolate; petals 5, yellowish white to pinkish, shorter than sepals. Fruit is achene, 3 mm long, tipped with 2–5 cm long, feathery, bronze to purplish bristles (styles), forming erect, fluffy tufts.

Notes: The long feathery styles act like sails, carrying seeds on the wind. The common name ‘old man’s whiskers’ alludes to the similarity between fluffy seed heads and the beard. At first glance, a field of of these plants in seed might appear to be covered with low-lying smoke or haze – hence the name ‘prairie smoke’.

Geum triflorum
Geum triflorumGeum triflorum
Geum triflorum

These images were taken in Canada, Alberta, Calgary, Bowmont Park (by Karel Bergmann, spring 2013) and Canada, Alberta, Waterton Lakes NP, Blakiston River, Red Rock Canyon (by Vít Grulich, July 30, 2007).