Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)

Scientific Name

Geum triflorum Pursh

Common Names

Prairie Smoke, Three-flowered Avens, Old Man's Whiskers


Geum triflorum var. triflorum, Geum triflorum f. triflorum, Erythrocoma grisea, Erythrocoma triflora, Geum ciliatum var. griseum, Sieversia grisea, Sieversia triflora

Scientific Classification

Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Tribe: Colurieae
Genus: Geum


Color: Cream to yellowish and red
Bloom Time: Spring


Geum triflorum is a perennial herbaceous plant with pinnately divided leaves with 7 to 17 primary leaflets. There are also a few smaller secondary leaflets inserted between some of the primary leaflets. They are arranged in a rosette at ground level and are semi-evergreen. Some basal leaves remain over the winter and often turn reddish-purple. The flowers bloom in spring. They appear on short reddish purple-tinged stems up to 16 inches (40 cm) tall and are arranged in umbels of 3–5 flowers. At the base of the umbel are leaflike green to reddish-purple bracts. While blooming, the flowers nod downwards and remain mostly closed and bud-like, except for a tiny opening at the bottom. The five petals are cream to yellowish, suffused with pink or purple, but are mostly covered by the five red sepals. Between the sepals are five narrow bractlets. Pollinated flowers turn upwards and open up. The pistils in the middle of the flower develop into heads of seeds with long fuzzy hairs that point upwards.

Geum triflorum - Prairie Smoke
Photo via

How to Grow and Care

Geums flower best in a sunny position with average garden water. However, in hot climates, afternoon shade is essential to keep the plants from being scorched. Good drainage is also important, as Geum is subject to root rot in wet conditions. Otherwise, they are very adaptable to different soil types.

Geum is easily grown by seed sown indoors six to eight weeks before the average date of the last frost. However, improved cultivars are readily available in garden centers, so most gardeners choose to start them as transplants. Plant them in good garden soil that has been enriched with compost. They are not considered drought-tolerant and will need weekly water throughout their life.

It's important to note that Geums are short-lived perennials that require division every few years to renew the patch. Otherwise, they will naturally decline and disappear.

Geums are generally grown as a front of the border plant, where their low foliage and bright flowers make a cheerful edging to flower beds. Since it is a small plant, masses of one variety are very effective, though they can also be interspersed with other small-statured annuals and perennials for a cottage garden look. Geums are also excellent in potted arrangements and make great cut flowers. See more at: How to Grow and Care for Geum.


Native to North America (from northern Canada to California and east to New York).


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