Geum triflorum is a North American native prairie plant. Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is not the reddish pink to purplish, nodding, globular flowers that bloom in late spring, but the fruiting heads which follow. As the flower fades and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate (to 2" long) to form upright, feathery gray tails which collectively resemble a plume or feather duster, all of which has given rise to a large number of regional descriptive common names for this plant such as torch flower, long-plumed purple avens, prairie smoke, lion's beard and old man's whiskers. The feathery seed tails act as sails in aiding dispersal of the seeds. A soft, hairy plant growing typically to 16" tall with fern-like, pinnately divided, green leaves (7-19 leaflets). Spreads by rhizomes and can be naturalized to form an interesting ground cover. Native Americans once boiled the roots to produce a root tea that was used medicinally for a variety of purposes such as wound applications and sore throat treatments. Best grown in dry, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade and prefers some afternoon shade in hot summers. It prefers cool summer climates. Hardy in zones 3-7.
Growing Instructions for the Prairie Smoke
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 30 days. 2. Fill a pot with potting soil. 3. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 4. Water the container and leave it to drain. 5. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 6. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. The seeds germinate in 7-14 days. 7. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.