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Geum sp. (Prairie Smoke and Water Avens)
Prairie Smoke

Zone: 3 to 7

Soil: sand to loam with some clay

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: Pink

Bloom period: May

Height: Up to 1 foot

Moisture: Usually dry to medium

Attracts: Bumblebees

Notes:

Prairie Smoke is native to Ontario and much of the western half of the continent. This plant is an early source of nectar for bumblebees. The flowerheads are upside down which restricts the pollination to bees. The closed flowerheads make the nectaries difficult to access for most bees. Bumblebees can force their way in and open up the flowers.

To attract bees and for best visual effect, this plant should be planted en masse at the front of a border. The closed flowers, although covered with purple sepals, will not attract much attention but the seed heads are quite striking and extend the season of interest for this plant. They are plumed with each individual strand attached to a seed to aid in its dispersal. The plant may also spread through its rhizomes.

For wetter soils, one can plant Water avens (Geum rivale). Their flowerheads do not need to be forced open by bumblebees. While the flowerheads of Water avens are prettier than those of Prairie smoke, the seedheads of the latter plant somewhat more striking with their longer styles. Water avens can be grown in exactly the same conditions as Blue flag iris.

Prairie smoke
Prairie smoke
Closed flowerheads of Prairie smoke
Prairie smoke
Prairie smoke - seed heads
Open flowerhead of Geum rivale
Open flowerhead of Geum rivale