Prairie Smoke


Prairie smoke, (Geum triflorum)  is an herbaceous perennial in the family Rosaceae native to North America. This unique wild flower gets its’ name from its feathery gray tails which resemble a plume or a feather duster. This characteristic has given this plant many nick-names such as: torch flower, long-plumed purple avens, prairie smoke, lion’s beard and old man’s whiskers.  It is listed as a threatened species by the Department of Environmental Conservation, because of this; the SLELO PRISM and The Nature Conservancy are trying to protect prairie smoke on several of the alvar communities within the SLELO region (St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, Oneida and Oswego Counties). 


Prairie smoke grows best in dry, well drained soils in full sunlight; it tolerates light shade on hot summer days. It can be locally found at one of the SLELO PRISM Priority Conservation Areas at the Chaumont Barrens Preserve, an alvar habitat, located in Chaumont NY. It is found naturally in North Western California throughout Canada and portions of the US.

psmoke map


Flowers:  are pink to reddish purple in color and grow in groups of three on long stalks. Each bloom is ¾-1 inch long with 5 white to pale pink petals hidden under red sepals. Sepals and floral bracts are hairy on the outer surface. Blooms appear in early spring (Middle to end of May for Northern New York area).


Leaves/Stem: Basal leaves are 4-8 inches long, hairy and divided into 7 or more primary, wedge shaped leaflets with coarse notches at the tips. Stems turn a reddish brown and are covered in fine hairs.


Fruit: Fruit is a dry seed with a 2-inch long feathery plume (distinctive feature that gives the flower its name) the plumes resemble smoke blowing in the wind.

Capture 2

Fun Facts:

Prairie smoke has been used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes to treat wounds and sore throats.

Photo Credits:

Title picture: Kirt Prairie, (cod.edu). Habitat/Distribution map photo: USDA Plant Database. Flower photo: Janet Allen, (ourhabitatgarden.org). Leaf/Stem photo: Slichter, ( halleyhosting.com). Fruit photo: G.D Bebeau, (friendsofthewildflowergarden.org).


“Geum Triflorum (Prairie Smoke): Minnesota Wildflowers.” Geum Triflorum (Prairie Smoke): Minnesota Wildflowers. Minnesota Wildflowers: A Guide to the Flora of Minnesota, n.d. Web. 27 July 2015. <https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/prairie-smoke>.

“Geum Triflorum – Plant Finder.” Geum Triflorum – Plant Finder. Missouri Botanical Garden, n.d. Web. 27 July 2015. <http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=h920>.


Prevent the introduction of invasive species into the SLELO PRISM.

Rapidly detect new and recent invaders and eliminate all individuals within a specific area.

Share resources, including funding personnel, equipment, information, and expertise.

Collect, utilize, and share information regarding surveys, infestations, control methods, monitoring, and research.

Control invasive species infestations by using best management practices, methods and techniques to include: ERADICATION (which is to eliminate all individuals and the seed bank from an area), CONTAINMENT (which is reducing the spread of established infestations from entering an uninfested area) and SUPPRESSION which is to reduce the density but not necessarily the total infested area.

Develop and implement effective restoration methods for areas that have been degraded by invasive species and where suppression or control has taken place.

Increase public awareness and understanding of invasive species.

Develop and implement innovative technologies that help us to better understand, visualize, alleviate or manage invasive species and their impacts or that serve to strengthen ecosystem function and/or processes.

Rob Williams
PRISM Coordinator

Megan Pistolese
Outreach and Education

Brittney Rogers
Aquatic Invasive Species

Robert Smith
Terrestrial Invasive Species