© Kent Runge, courtesy of Flickr.com
G. triflorum var. campanulatum (Greene) C.L. Hitchc. [61,62,68]
G. triflorum var. canescens (Greene) Kartesz & Gandhi [67,68,69]
G. triflorum var. ciliatum (Pursh) Fassett [48,54,61,62,68,69,70,82,87,126]
G. triflorum var. triflorum [50,54,61,62,68,73]
For the purposes of this review, the common name prairie smoke will be used when discussing
characteristics common to (or assumed to be common to) the species in general. When referring to
infrataxa, the scientific names for the varieties listed above are used.
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
Information on state-level protected status of plants in the United States is available at Plants Database.
Geum triflorum var. ciliatum occurs in and east of the Cascades from British Columbia to California, east to Alberta and the Rocky Mountain states, probably intergrading with G. t. var. triflorum and G. t. var. campanulatum [4,36,61,62,69,70,82]. According to Great Plains Flora Association , a few specimens from the western Great Plains "approach" G. t. var. ciliatum in similarity of diagnostic traits.
Geum triflorum var. campanulatum is apparently a montane ecotype of the Olympic Mountains in Washington, and of Saddle Mountain, Clatsop County, Oregon, transitional to G. t. var. ciliatum [61,62].
Geum triflorum var. canescens is found at higher elevations (8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400-2,700 m)) in the Sierra Nevada Range and on Hinkey Summit, Santa Rosa Range, northwestern Nevada . Plants Database  indicates that G. t. var. canescens also occurs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Geum triflorum var. triflorum occurs from Alberta to southeastern Canada and the northeastern U.S., and south in the Rockies, where it more or less straddles the continental divide from Montana to northern New Mexico, and includes some populations as far west as northeastern Arizona [36,50,61,62]. Most Great Plains specimens are G. t. var. triflorum .
Plants Database provides state distribution maps
of prairie smoke and its infrataxa.
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands
STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)-prairie smoke 
mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana)/needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata)-prairie smoke
mountain big sagebrush/Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis)-prairie smoke
mountain big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)-prairie smoke 
stemless goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis)-G. t. var. canescens 
© Kent Runge, courtesy of Flickr.com
Prairie smoke is a perennial forb [25,36,50,51,54,58,61,62,70,73,82,87, 126] with erect or ascending stems [60,73,82] 5.9 to 20 inches (15-50 cm) tall [25,36,50,54,58,60,61,73,82,87], often forming clumps 8 to 16 inches (20-40 cm) or more wide [54,61].
Leaves are generally basal [58,60,61], 0.8 to 7.9 inches (2-20 cm) long [25,36,50,54,58,60,61,73,82,126], these being numerous  and unequally or interruptedly pinnate to pinnatifid or lyrate [50,54,73,87], with 7-19 leaflets [50,54,73,87], 0.5 to 2 inches (13-50 mm) long [36,50,54], progressively larger toward the apex . There are also typically 1 to 4 small leaves about mid-length on the stem [54,61,73,82].
The stalked flowers  are perfect [36,61,62,87,126], 0.3 to 0.4 inch (7-10 mm) long  and number from 1 to 9 [36,54,61,73,82,126], but usually 3 [25,73,82]. Styles are long (1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm)) and plumose [51,54,123]. The terminal segment of the style is generally persistent in Geum triflorum var. triflorum, while in G.t. var. campanulatum and G.t. var. ciliatum it is generally deciduous . The fruit is a more or less flat  achene [36,43,51,54,54,58,60,61,62,70,73,82, 82,87,123,126], 0.1 to 0.5 inches (2.5-12 mm) long [36,54,58,60,61,61].
Prairie smoke has a thick scaly caudex [36,70]. It also
produces short, thick rhizomes [43,50,54,60,73,126].
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Prairie smoke regenerates from seeds, rhizomes, and probably by sprouting from the caudex. However, as of this writing (2006) there is very little published information describing prairie smoke regeneration processes.
Pollination: No information is available on this topic.
Breeding system: Given that the flowers are perfect [36,61,62,87,126], prairie smoke is also monoecious.
Seed production: Stevens  collected 142 seeds from a single "mature" prairie smoke plant "of average size," "growing where competition was low."
Seed dispersal: Fruits are wind-dispersed . Zimmerman  noted that "seed heads do not all ripen together...., yet suddenly and individually fall off, especially during rainstorms."
Seed banking: No information is available on this topic.
Germination: Germination is probably variable, depending on conditions, but not dependent upon stratification. Zimmerman  suggested that prairie smoke seeds do not require stratification, and can germinate soon after dispersal. Baskin and Baskin  also provided qualified support for the idea that seeds are nondormant at maturity. Greene and Curtis  conducted germination tests on a variety of Wisconsin prairie species. Stratification for 3 months appeared to have little effect on prairie smoke germination, with 64% of stratified seeds germinating compared with 50% for unstratified.
Prairie smoke seed viability may be variable from year to year. Unstratified seed collected in southern and western Wisconsin in 1937, 1940, and 1941, yielded germination rates of 80%, 14%, and 50%, respectively . Germination testing on prairie smoke seed collected from an eastern South Dakota prairie resulted in a 90% germination rate, requiring 7-16 days . Zimmerman  suggested that prairie smoke seeds do require prolonged wetting prior to germination .
Seedling establishment/growth: As of this writing (2006) there is very little published information describing prairie smoke seedling establishment and growth. A study of the effects of pocket gopher disturbance on shortgrass prairie forbs suggests that prairie smoke seedling establishment and growth may be enhanced by small-scale disturbance .
Several sources indicate that prairie smoke has both rhizomes [43,50,54,60,73,126] and a caudex
[36,70], suggesting that asexual regeneration can occur. However, there is currently (2006) very
little published information describing the importance of asexual regeneration for its survival
and spread. Curtis  wrote that prairie smoke was among several species "with a strongly
developed rhizome method of vegetative propagation."
Biogeographic: The published literature describes a variety of site types where prairie smoke may be found. These include, but may not be limited to: montane, alpine or high valley grasslands, meadows, balds and tundra [2,36,51,69,82]; sometimes rocky and often open mountain slopes, hillsides, and foothills [69,70,82,87]; western grasslands and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) plains [24,25,28,39,51,60,61,66,75,82,84,85, 109]; Missouri River bottomlands ; Great Plains and Midwestern prairie and grasslands [5,6,21,30,37,54,64,95,123]; old fields ; woodlands and open forests [7,51,54,60,69,70,82,85,123].
Elevation: Prairie smoke is found at a range of elevations, from the subalpine and alpine zones of the western mountains [43,61,81,82,86], to Great Lakes prairies [95,123], and old fields in the New Jersey Piedmont . In the mountainous West its elevation range might be quite broad. For instance, Lackschewitz  described prairie smoke habitat in west-central Montana from valley bottoms to upper subalpine, and Hitchcock and Cronquist  indicated that it could be found from the lower foothills to subalpine ridges in the Pacific Northwest.
The following table lists published accounts of elevation ranges where prairie smoke can be found in western North America. These examples should not necessarily be interpreted as elevational limits to prairie smoke distribution, but simply as a demonstration of the kinds of elevations, particularly upper elevations, where prairie smoke might occur.
|Colorado||7,000 to 11,000 feet (2,100-3,400 m) |
|Intermountain West||5,200 to 11,000 feet (1,600-3,400 m) |
|east-central Arizona||10,400 to 10,900 feet (3170-3320 m) |
|California||4,300 to 10,500 feet (1,300-3,200 m) |
|Uinta Basin (Utah)||7,500 to 10,000 feet (2300-3050m) |
|Greater Yellowstone||6,800 to 10,000 feet (2,070-3050 m) |
|southern Montana||above 9,800 feet (>3000 m) |
|Arizona (Geum triflorum var. ciliatum)||6,000 to 9,500 feet (1,800-2,900 m) |
|northern New Mexico||7,000 to 9,000 feet (2,100-2,700 m) |
|northwestern Wyoming||6,700 to 9,000 feet (2,040-2,700 m) |
|Nevada (G. t. var. canescens)||8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400-2,700 m)|
|northern Nevada (G. t. var. ciliatum)||5,000 to 8,000 feet (1,500-2,400 m) |
|British Columbia||3,480 to 7,434 feet (1,060-2,266 m) |
|southeastern Oregon (G. t. var. ciliatum)||6,000 to 7,000 feet (1,800-3,400 m) |
|northern Idaho||to 2,900 feet (880 m) |
Climate: While to date (2006) there is no comprehensive source for climate parameters describing the distribution of prairie smoke, the following examples provide some indication of climate for habitats where prairie smoke occurs. At a south-central Saskatchewan prairie site, mean monthly temperatures range from -0.4 °F (-18 °C) in January to 66 °F (19 °C) in July, and average annual precipitation is 14 inches (360 mm), 30% falling as snow . A northern Idaho ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) habitat receives an average of 22 inches (560 mm) of annual precipitation, mostly falling from October to March . A study site in the upper Blackfoot Valley in western Montana receives an average of about 16 inches (400 mm) of precipitation annually, nearly a third occurring in May and June . A southeastern Oregon montane habitat containing a population of G. t. var. ciliatum has an average frost-free period of 10-50 days and annual precipitation estimated at 12-18 inches (300-460 mm), about 40% occurring in the growing season .
Moisture regime: The site characteristic that is perhaps most frequently mentioned in relation to prairie smoke occurrence is moisture regime. In the more arid regions of western North America, prairie smoke habitat is usually characterized as moist or wet. This is particularly true where prairie smoke is found in isolated moist areas surrounded by a wider landscape of dry habitat. Some examples include wet alpine meadows in Nevada , more mesic areas of sagebrush-dominated plains and lower foothills in the Pacific Northwest , moist streambanks and wet meadows in high valley and montane sites in the Intermountain West , and moist slopes in Colorado .
In grassland habitats of the northern Rockies, several studies have documented prairie smoke's affinity for moister areas. A study of grassland phytogeography along the North Fork Flathead River in Glacier National Park, northwestern Montana, indicated that while prairie smoke was present in most grassland habitats studied, it became increasingly more prevalent towards the mesic end of the moisture gradient in habitats dominated by rough fescue (Festuca altaica) . In an Idaho fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass habitat type in western Montana, prairie smoke is among several species that were more likely to be prominent in the moister Columbia needlegrass (Achnatherum nelsonii) phase, compared with other phases of the habitat type . A study in southwestern Montana mountain grasslands, comprised of variations of an Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass habitat type, indicated greater prairie smoke productivity where moisture availability was greatest. Mean prairie smoke aboveground biomass productivity was 7 lb/ac (range 2-13) on a southwest exposure (typical Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass habitat type), compared with 98 lb/ac (range 45-139) on a northeast exposure (Columbia needlegrass phase of the same habitat type). It was suggested that the northeast exposure had greater moisture availability during the growing season . However, prairie smoke presence is probably reduced on sites where snowpack lasts into summer (Weaver 1970 as cited in ).
Conversely, where grassland habitats persist within a larger landscape of moister, often forested habitats, prairie smoke sites are typically characterized as dry. These areas are most common along the prairie/forest interface in the midwestern and north-eastern U.S. and Canadian prairie provinces. Some examples include isolated dry grasslands in Wood Buffalo National Park, northern Alberta , dry prairie sites along the forest-prairie transition zone in north-central Minnesota , dry prairies in northern Illinois , xeric prairie habitats in Wisconsin , and "dry habitats" in Michigan . A similar situation may be found in western North America where dry, grassy isolates occur within a larger, moister forested matrix. For instance, Franklin and Dyrness  noted the presence of prairie smoke on steep, south-facing slopes in the Olympic Mountains, northwestern Washington.
In some areas, prairie smoke may occur locally within a relatively wide range of moisture regimes. Lackschewitz  indicated that prairie smoke occurs on sites that are mesic (adequate moisture during all or most of the growing season, but rarely if ever flooded) to meso-xeric (moisture abundant in the early growing season but dry later on) sites in west-central Montana. According to Klinkenberg  prairie smoke can be found within dry to mesic grasslands, meadows, rocky slopes and open forests in the steppe, montane and subalpine zones of British Columbia. Lloyd and others  indicated that prairie smoke is found from xeric to subhydric soil moisture regimes within the bunch grass, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca), and montane spruce (Picea spp.) zones in the Kamloops Forest Region, southern British Columbia.
Although as of this writing (2006) there is no comprehensive information on prairie smoke soil
affinities, it appears from several sources that prairie smoke occurs on a wide variety of soils.
For example, it is found on heavy clay soils in northern Nevada , as well as moist, well-drained
soils in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah .
Although research describing the relative benefit to prairie smoke provided by fire-caused disturbance appears ambiguous (see Fire Effects), several studies suggest prairie smoke presence may be enhanced by other types of disturbance. Bramble-Brodahl  classified the sagebrush-grass vegetation of the Gros Ventre District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. In the mountain big sagebrush/Idaho fescue-prairie smoke habitat type, prairie smoke was among species said to increase with disturbance. In the mountain big sagebrush/needle-and-thread grass-prairie smoke habitat type, prairie smoke was among species said to increase with disturbance on wetter sites . Redmann and Schwartz  studied the dry grassland vegetation of Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta. Sampling at 4 paired sites indicated that prairie smoke had greater presence on sites disturbed by "compaction and erosion", compared with undisturbed sites . A study of the effects of pocket gopher disturbance on shortgrass prairie forbs indicated that prairie smoke benefits from small-scale disturbance. Comparisons of undisturbed habitat and habitat disturbed by pocket gopher burrowing indicated that prairie smoke seedling establishment and growth were greater on pocket gopher mounds .
Since prairie smoke seems to benefit from disturbance, it is most likely to be found in association with
early-successional rather than late-successional communities. Bunting and others  provided some support
for this idea in a study of the western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)/mountain big sagebrush mosaic
of the South Fork Owyhee River, southwestern Idaho. Prairie smoke was among several forb species associated
primarily with early-successional grassland and sagebrush steppe within this mosaic. These species were not
typically found in late-successional juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodland communities .
Prairie smoke phenology may vary according to site conditions. A study of variation in plant seasonal development on a southwestern Montana mountain grassland site showed that prairie smoke phenological development initiated earlier and proceeded more rapidly, on average, on a southwest exposure compared with a northeast exposure . Hitchcock and Cronquist  indicated that flowering occurred from April to early August in the Pacific Northwest, depending on elevation.
Some examples of flowering phenology from across prairie smoke's North American range are:
|Location||Approximate flowering times|
|south-central Wisconsin ||mid-May-early June|
|Uintas (northeastern Utah) ||May-June|
|Pacific Northwest ||April-early August|
|Intermountain West ||June-August|
|Great Plains ||April-June|
|northern New Mexico ||May-June|
|northern Illinois ||May-June|
|western New York to Minnesota and Iowa ||May-June (Geum triflorum var. triflorum)|
|Beartooth Plateau, southern Montana ||late June-July|
|southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois ||May-late June|
Curtis  indicated that prairie smoke was among the earliest plants to flower on xeric prairie sites in Wisconsin.
The following prairie smoke flowering data were collected over 6 seasons near Woodworth, central North Dakota .
|Earliest 1st bloom||Latest 1st bloom||Median date of full flowering||Median date when flowering 95% complete||Mean # days in flower|
|May 10 1983||June 6, 1979||May 22||June 19||37|
The following prairie smoke flowering data were collected over 13 seasons at Swift Current, southwestern Saskatchewan .
|Mean flowering date||Earliest flowering date||Latest flowering date||Latest date in flower||Mean # days in flower|
|May 13||April 24, 1946||May 25, 1954||August 1||62|
Fire regimes: As of this writing (2006) there is very little published information that specifically addresses fire regime characteristics that might influence prairie smoke productivity or distribution. Limited research has suggested that factors such as fire intensity  or season  may be important (see Fire Effects), but these few studies are too limited in number and scope to provide much clarity or certainty about their effect.
There is also no published information, as of this writing (2006), that indicates the importance of fire return interval for prairie smoke productivity or distribution. However, it may be inferred from studies of fire regimes in plant communities and ecosystems where prairie smoke can be found, that prairie smoke seems to occur where fire return intervals are relatively short. See the following table, which provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where prairie smoke may occur.Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes"
|Community or ecosystem||Dominant species||Fire return interval range (years)|
|grand fir||Abies grandis||35-200 |
|bluestem prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||<10 [77,99]|
|Nebraska sandhills prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium||<10 |
|silver sagebrush steppe||Artemisia cana||5-45 [59,101,128]|
|sagebrush steppe||Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata||20-70 |
|basin big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata||12-43 |
|mountain big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana||15-40 [11,32,93]|
|Wyoming big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis||10-70 ( x=40) [122,129]|
|desert grasslands||Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica||10 to <100 [90,99]|
|plains grasslands||Bouteloua spp.||<35 [99,128]|
|blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass||Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii||<35 [99,105,128]|
|blue grama-buffalo grass||Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides||<35 [99,128]|
|grama-galleta steppe||Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii||<35 to <100 |
|cheatgrass||Bromus tectorum||<10 [100,127]|
|curlleaf mountain-mahogany*||Cercocarpus ledifolius||13-1,000 [13,107]|
|western juniper||Juniperus occidentalis||20-70|
|Rocky Mountain juniper||Juniperus scopulorum||<35 |
|wheatgrass plains grasslands||Pascopyrum smithii||<5-47+ [99,101,128]|
|Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir||Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa||35 to >200|
|blue spruce*||Picea pungens||35-200 |
|pinyon-juniper||Pinus-Juniperus spp.||<35 |
|Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine||P. aristata||9-55 [41,42]|
|whitebark pine*||Pinus albicaulis||50-200 [1,8]|
|Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine*||Pinus contorta var. latifolia||25-340 [17,18,119]|
|Sierra lodgepole pine*||Pinus contorta var. murrayana||35-200 |
|Colorado pinyon||Pinus edulis||10-400+ [47,53,71,99]|
|Pacific ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa||1-47 |
|interior ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum||2-30 [10,15,83]|
|Arizona pine||Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica||2-15 [15,35,112]|
|galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe||Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea||<35 to <100|
|eastern cottonwood||Populus deltoides||<35 to 200 |
|quaking aspen-paper birch||Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera||35-200 [44,124]|
|quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains)||Populus tremuloides||7-120 [10,56,91]|
|mountain grasslands||Pseudoroegneria spicata||3-40 ( x=10) [9,10]|
|Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir*||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca||25-100 [10,11,12]|
|California mixed evergreen||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii||<35 |
|bur oak||Quercus macrocarpa||<10 |
|oak savanna||Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||2-14 [99,124]|
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||<35 |
|mountain hemlock*||Tsuga mertensiana||35 to >200 |
Schwecke and Hann  described a monitoring
program that tracked the effects of prescribed burning on vegetation in a Rocky Mountain
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)/rough fescue habitat type in
western Montana. Their postfire observations suggest no negative effect of fire. Within
sampling plots, individual plants (quantity not provided) were marked for monitoring prior
to burning. Following both spring and fall burning, there was 0% mortality among the
prairie smoke plants that were monitored. Burn conditions were described (see ).
The publication provides no qualitative description of direct fire effects on individual
plants and no explanation for the lack of fire-caused mortality.
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Several studies have documented postfire response in prairie smoke populations. These responses suggest that, at least at the population level, fire may cause a positive response, a negative response, or no net effect. At the plant level, there is no published information on causes of postfire population responses. For instance, do prairie smoke plants sprout from rhizomes or caudices in response to fire damage? To what extent do prairie smoke seedlings establish in the postfire environment? More research is needed to answer these and other questions relevant to the fire ecology of prairie smoke.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Several studies indicate that prairie smoke populations may increase following fire. Bailey and Anderson  reported that prairie smoke was among several perennial forbs that "responded quickly" following prescribed burning in rough fescue-porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea) grasslands in central Alberta, but no data or further description were provided. Bork and others  reported that prairie smoke increased "prominently" following prescribed burning in shrub-encroached grassland in northwestern Alberta, but again, no data or further description were provided.
Bork and others  examined vegetation response following a December wildfire that burned in rough fescue-Parry oatgrass (Danthonia parryi) grassland in southwestern Alberta. No preburn data were collected. Estimated June mean canopy cover of prairie smoke in the interior of the burned area was 1.6% and 2.2% in postfire years 1 and 2, respectively. Similar estimates were 0.1% and 0.3% along the perimeter of the burned area, and adjacent unburned plots contained no prairie smoke. Estimated mean 1- and 2-year postfire litter cover was 11.2% and 55.4% in the interior of the burned area, 39.6% and 76.3% along the perimeter of the burned area, and 91.7% and 97.9% in the adjacent unburned plots . Although not discussed by the authors, prairie smoke cover following the fire may have been related to litter consumption.
Other research has documented variable responses to burning, perhaps due to season of burning or fire intensity. For example, Archibold and others  conducted an experiment on a plains rough fescue (Festuca altaica spp. hallii) prairie in south-central Saskatchewan, whose results suggested a positive response in prairie smoke density after spring and summer burning, but a decrease after fall burning. Average prairie smoke density at the end of the 2nd growing season (>1 year after burning) was 0.7 stems per meter in the control plot, compared with 9.3 and 11.7 stems per meter in the spring burn and summer burn plots, respectively. However, prairie smoke was absent from the fall burn plot. No prefire vegetation data were recorded .
Another study documenting a variable response to burning suggests that postfire prairie smoke production may have been related to fire intensity. Armour and others  conducted an experiment examining the effects of fire intensity on postfire vegetation response over 3 postfire years in northern Idaho ponderosa pine stands. Fire intensity (kcal/m-s) was calculated as the product of rate of spread, fuel consumed per unit area, and heat content of wood (450 cal/g). In general, prairie smoke was more common on low-intensity burn sites than on either high-intensity or unburned sites, with mean frequency 2 to 4 times greater on low intensity burn sites than on the other 2 site types. Mean canopy coverage and mean frequency (averaged across 3 postfire years) were significantly (p<0.1) greater on low intensity burn sites, compared with either high intensity or unburned sites.
Other studies have shown an apparent decrease in prairie smoke production due to fire. Walhof  compared burned and unburned big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities at several sites in southwestern Montana. On a site that had burned on October 26, 1987 and where vegetation was sampled in July 1995, average prairie smoke canopy coverage and frequency were significantly (p<0.05) lower (3% and 17%, respectively), compared with paired unburned control plots (17.5% and 63%, respectively). Site characteristics and burn conditions are provided in .
McGee  described effects of prescribed burning on a big sagebrush ecosystem in northwestern Wyoming. Vegetation was sampled on plots encompassing a spring (6/3/74) prescribed fire, a fall (8/27/74) prescribed fire, and an adjacent unburned control area. The spring burn resulted in "a mosaic of burned patches ranging from completely burned, to partially burned, to unburned." In the fall burn, "all living and dead vegetation was consumed." Vegetation sampling took place during summers of 1974, 1975, and 1976. The table below summarizes postfire sampling data from this study. Prairie smoke cover and frequency data from 1974 are postfire for the spring burn, but prefire for the fall burn. Data are means from 40 to 50 tenth-hectare quadrats.
|Spring Burn||Fall Burn||Unburned Control|
|frequency of occurrence||0||1||0||10||0||0||10||10||25|
These data strongly suggest that prairie smoke presence was diminished by both fire treatments.
Another study demonstrated no net effect of fire on prairie smoke populations. Menke and Muir  studied the effects of fire on a grassland community in the Snake River Canyon, southwestern Idaho. Mean prefire cover and 1- and 2-year postfire cover of prairie smoke were not significantly (p<0.05) different within either the burned or unburned plots, and there was no significant difference (p = 0.70) in magnitude and direction of year-to-year changes between burned and unburned areas .
The following Research Project Summary provides information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of many plant species, including prairie smoke:
Understory recovery after low- and high-intensity fires in northern Idaho
ponderosa pine forests
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
As of this writing (2006) there is no published information specifically concerning the simultaneous management of prairie smoke and fire. A variety of research (highlighted above) suggests that fire may have a positive influence, negative influence, or no net effect on particular prairie smoke populations. Further research is needed. However, note that prairie smoke persists within plant communities and ecosystems in North America where periodic, often frequent fire historically occurred (see Fire Regimes).
A smattering of published information provides little in the way of definitive conclusions about the response of prairie smoke to domestic livestock grazing. Prairie smoke was labeled an "increaser" in response to grazing on Montana rangelands by Mueggler and Stewart  and Montana State University Extension Service . Daubenmire  considered prairie smoke a "decreaser" in response to grazing within the Idaho fescue-common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) habitat type in eastern Washington. In a rough fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass habitat type in western Montana, Mueggler and Stewart  indicated that prairie smoke increases with "light" grazing, but declines with "heavy use," particularly by domestic sheep.
While prairie smoke is probably utilized by native ungulates, at least seasonally, it appears not to be a major forage source. Gordon  reported elk utilization of small amounts of prairie smoke as winter forage (1% of diet during January-March) on lower slopes of the Elkhorn Range, west-central Montana. Prairie smoke grazing by elk was not observed on these sites during spring (April-May). Kamps  recorded evidence of mule deer feeding on prairie smoke in central Montana, mainly in spring, and Singer  documented spring utilization by white-tailed deer in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park, Montana. Hansen and others ( and references therein) ranked prairie smoke "food value" as "poor" for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, upland game birds, waterfowl, small nongame birds, and small mammals, and "fair" for white-tailed deer in southwestern Montana.
Palatability/nutritional value: Prairie smoke does not seem particularly palatable or nutritious for livestock. Hansen and others ( and references therein) ranked prairie smoke "energy value" and "protein value" as "poor." Palatability was considered "poor" for cattle and horses and "fair" for domestic sheep ( and references therein). Mueggler and Stewart  characterized prairie smoke as having "very poor" palatability for cattle, domestic sheep, deer, and elk. Gross energy value of prairie smoke seeds, in average gram-calories per gram, were 4,998 for whole and 5,693 for hulled seeds .
No information is available on this topic.
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Dusek  reported small amounts of prairie smoke (<0.5% canopy coverage during one of 3 sampling years, no occurrence in the other 2 years) growing on coal mine spoils in south-central Montana. It was not clear from this report if prairie smoke was purposely planted at this site or had established on its own.
No information is available on this topic.
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Susceptibility of prairie smoke to herbicides remains unclear. Blaisdell and others ( and references therein) indicated that prairie smoke is severely impacted by 2,4-D. A study by Lacey and others  of the effects of clopyralid or picloram on both native and nonnative forb diversity on spotted knapweed-infested rangelands in western Montana revealed no significant (p<0.05) difference in prairie smoke density between herbicide treatments and the untreated control. Rice and Toney  studied the effects of herbicide treatments for controlling spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) on native forest and grassland vegetation in west-central Montana. At a single site, prairie smoke occurrence was not significantly (p=0.827) different in untreated plots and plots treated with either picloram or clopyralid. Scotter  studied the effect of several rates of picloram application on grass and forb production on a rough fescue-Junegrass grassland near Banff National Park, Alberta. Although prairie smoke was characterized as "relatively resistant" to the effects of picloram, accompanying data suggests herbicide treatments dramatically reduced prairie smoke production .
|Year 1||Year 2|
|herbicide application rate (lb/acre)||0||0.5||1.0||1.5||0||0.5||1.0||1.5|
|prairie smoke production (lb/acre, air dried)||95||14||7||0||243||8||24||0|
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