Old Mans Whiskers Plant Information
Old Mans Whiskers grows in the following 19 states:Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Oregon, California, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Washington
Geum triflorum, (prairie smoke, three-flowered avens, or old man's whiskers) is a spring-blooming perennial herbaceous plant of North America from northern Canada to California and east to New York. The flowers bloom from mid-spring to early summer.
Prairie smoke has pinnately divided leaves with 7-17 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 15 to 41 centimetres (6 to 16in) high and are arranged in umbels of 3-5 flowers. At the base of the umbel are leaflike green to reddish purple bracts. Sometimes there are also pairs of leaflike bracts on the stem below the umbel or on the stems of individual flowers. 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. Hidden within the flower are a central cluster of pistils and a ring of many stamens around them.
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. The hairs resemble mauve smoke, hence the name prairie smoke.
The flowers produce both nectar and pollen. They are visited mainly by female bumblebees, which are able to force their way into the mostly closed flowers and reach the nectar. They also buzz-pollinate to dislodge pollen from the stamens and gather it to feed their young. Smaller bees such as Lasioglossum feed on pollen grains from the opening of the flower. Bumblebees are the only effective cross-pollinators. Various insects chew holes in the top of the flower, near the stem, to reach the nectar.
Some Plateau Indian tribes used three-flowered avens to treat tuberculosis.
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