Geum triflorum

Geum triflorum


Geum triflorum

This plant is derived from the flower and root of the, it is popularly known as, a lesser stitchwort, and is found in many parts of Western Europe.Geum triflorum is a native North American perennial commonly called Prairie Smoke, for the appearance of the wispy seedheads. Other common names include Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple (or Red) Avens, Long-Plumed Avens, and Three-Flowered Avens. It is widely distributed across southern Canada and the central and northern U.S. in temperate and sub-arctic grasslands, and is hardy in zones 3-7. This prairie and open woodland wildflower in the rose family (Rosaceae) can be locally abundant on upland prairie sites. It is commonly found on shallow and gravelly sites as well as in silty and loamy soils. Unfortunately, it has become rather rare over much of its range, out-competed by naturalized invaders and eliminated by development. Native Americans used this plant for medicinal purposes.


The plants form a mound of foliage 6-10” tall, very gradually spreading by rhizomes. The leaves are pinnately compound with 9-19 rather crowded, narrow, toothed leaflets. The deeply cut, almost ferny leaves are semi-evergreen, with the foliage often turning red, purple and orange from late fall through winter. The leaves often look poor during the heat of the summer but resume growth in late summer and fall to become a deep grey-green as other perennials are senescing for the season. When dry or during winter the leaves tend to lay flat on the ground but perk up quickly when conditions improve.

Fertilized flowers are later followed by distinctive silvery-pink fluffy fruits (called achenes) that are equally as decorative as the flowers, if not more so. The styles (parts of the female reproductive organs) greatly elongate in the fruit to form plumes nearly three inches long. After pollination the stems slowly turn upright, so that by the time the tufted fruit appear the feathery heads look like smoke wafting away from the plant – or something like the little “troll” dolls that once were so popular. The seedheads remain on the plant for many weeks until they become golden in color and very dry and are dispersed by the wind. They can be harvested and dried for use in flower arrangements. Pick the entire stem and hang upside down in a warm, dry place until dry. (Source: hort.extension.wisc.edu)



Related Articles