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Friday, May 24, 2013

Prairie Spotlight: Prairie Smoke

The list of 2013 Flowering Plants on the Green Roof is growing.  So far the list includes the Fewseed Draba, Devil's Gate Twinpod, one of the Fleabanes (Erigeron compositus), and most recently, the wonderful Prairie Smoke. 

Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) is a widespread prairie flower in Noth America, covering most of the northern and western states of the US and Canada.  

Map from USDA Plants Database website:

It usually starts blooming in May, and has interesting-looking flowers that stay mostly closed, are usually in clusters of three, and have a nodding habit.  The flowers depend on bees for pollination - bumble bees are especially effective pollinators for this plant because they can use their buzz pollination tactic to shake the pollen out. 

Close-up of the prairie smoke on the Berry Prairie

The only blooming Prairie Smoke on the green roof as of May 23, 2013

If successfully pollinated, these flowers will create seeds that are attached to feathery tufts that work as sails to be caught in the wind and distributed around the area.  This feathery stage is what gives this plant its common name of "Prairie Smoke" or "Old Man's Whiskers."

Photo from Prairie Moon Nursery:

This beautiful plant is doing well on the Berry Prairie, many (or perhaps all?) of the plants overwintered well and are coming up again this spring.  Stop by to check them out!

Written by Brenna Marsicek, Biodiversity Institute

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