Geum triflorum



INTRODUCTORY


Kent Runge, courtesy of Flickr.com


AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Munger, Gregory T. 2006. Geum triflorum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].

FEIS ABBREVIATION:
GEUTRI

SYNONYMS:
Geum campanulatum (Greene) G.N. Jones
    = G. triflorum var. campanulatum (Greene) C.L. Hitchc. [68]
Geum canescens (Greene) Munz
    = G. triflorum var. canescens (Greene) Kartesz & Gandhi [63,68]
Erythrocoma canescens Greene
    = G. triflorum var. canescens (Greene) Kartesz & Gandhi [67]
Geum ciliatum Pursh
    =G. triflorum var. ciliatum (Pursh) Fassett [51,58,68,70,87,126]
Geum ciliatum var. griseum (Greene) Kearney & Peebles
    =G. triflorum var. triflorum [58,68]

NRCS PLANT CODE [121]:
GETR

COMMON NAMES:
prairie smoke
old man's whiskers
three-flowered avens

TAXONOMY:
The currently accepted scientific name of prairie smoke is Geum triflorum Pursh.(Rosaceae) [25,36,43,50,51,54,60,61,62,63,68,69,70,73,81,82,87,95,126]. The following varieties are recognized:

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.

LIFE FORM:
Forb

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
None

OTHER STATUS:
Information on state-level protected status of plants in the United States is available at Plants Database.


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Geum triflorum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Prairie smoke is native to North America and can be found from the Yukon and Northwest Territories, south through British Columbia, Washington and Oregon (mostly east of the Cascades), the Klamath, Cascade and Sierra Nevada Ranges of California, and into northern and central Arizona and northern New Mexico. Its range extends across Canada to Newfoundland. In the United States it is distributed eastward from the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains, across the northern Great Plains and into the prairie region of the Lake States and parts of the Northeast [2,3,6,7,16,21,25,34,36,39,43,48,50,51,54,60,61,62,66,69, 70,73,74,81,87,88,92,95,103,109,120,123,126].

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 [54], 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 [69]. Plants Database [121] 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 [54].

Plants Database provides state distribution maps of prairie smoke and its infrataxa.

ECOSYSTEMS [49]:
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES

AZ CA CO ID IL IA MI MN MT NE NV
NM NY ND NJ OH OR SD UT WA WY

CANADA
AB BC MB ON SK YK

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [22]:
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

KUCHLER [78] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K004 Fir-hemlock forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K022 Great Basin pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K098 Northern floodplain forest

SAF COVER TYPES [46]:
16 Aspen
42 Bur oak
46 Eastern redcedar
63 Cottonwood
109 Hawthorn
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
207 Red fir
208 Whitebark pine
209 Bristlecone pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
212 Western larch
213 Grand fir
216 Blue spruce
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
219 Limber pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood-willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
256 California mixed subalpine

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [113]:
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
102 Idaho fescue
103 Green fescue
104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
106 Bluegrass scabland
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
108 Alpine Idaho fescue
109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
210 Bitterbrush
213 Alpine grassland
216 Montane meadows
301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama
302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass
306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass
307 Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge
308 Idaho fescue-tufted hairgrass
309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue
320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
323 Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue
324 Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
404 Threetip sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
406 Low sagebrush
407 Stiff sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
409 Tall forb
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
502 Grama-galleta
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass
609 Wheatgrass-grama
610 Wheatgrass
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
612 Sagebrush-grass
613 Fescue grassland
614 Crested wheatgrass
615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
724 Sideoats grama-New Mexico feathergrass-winterfat

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Vegetation classifications describing plant communities where prairie smoke is a dominant species are:

AB:
prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)-prairie smoke [118]

WY:
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 [28]

CA:
stemless goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis)-G. t. var. canescens [86]


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Geum triflorum

Kent Runge, courtesy of Flickr.com


GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [25,36,50,51,54,58,60,61,69,73,87,95, 123,126]).

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 [73] 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 [54]. There are also typically 1 to 4 small leaves about mid-length on the stem [54,61,73,82].

The stalked flowers [73] are perfect [36,61,62,87,126], 0.3 to 0.4 inch (7-10 mm) long [126] 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 [62]. The fruit is a more or less flat [60] 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 [102] LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
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 [116] collected 142 seeds from a single "mature" prairie smoke plant "of average size," "growing where competition was low."

Seed dispersal: Fruits are wind-dispersed [123]. Zimmerman [130] 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 [130] suggested that prairie smoke seeds do not require stratification, and can germinate soon after dispersal. Baskin and Baskin [19] also provided qualified support for the idea that seeds are nondormant at maturity. Greene and Curtis [55] 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 [55]. Germination testing on prairie smoke seed collected from an eastern South Dakota prairie resulted in a 90% germination rate, requiring 7-16 days [115]. Zimmerman [130] suggested that prairie smoke seeds do require prolonged wetting prior to germination [130].

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 [88].

Asexual regeneration: 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 [37] wrote that prairie smoke was among several species "with a strongly developed rhizome method of vegetative propagation."

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
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 [3]; Great Plains and Midwestern prairie and grasslands [5,6,21,30,37,54,64,95,123]; old fields [16]; 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 [16]. In the mountainous West its elevation range might be quite broad. For instance, Lackschewitz [81] described prairie smoke habitat in west-central Montana from valley bottoms to upper subalpine, and Hitchcock and Cronquist [61] 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.

Location Elevation
Colorado 7,000 to 11,000 feet (2,100-3,400 m) [58]
Intermountain West 5,200 to 11,000 feet (1,600-3,400 m) [36]
east-central Arizona 10,400 to 10,900 feet (3170-3320 m) [2]
California 4,300 to 10,500 feet (1,300-3,200 m) [60]
Uinta Basin (Utah) 7,500 to 10,000 feet (2300-3050m) [51]
Greater Yellowstone 6,800 to 10,000 feet (2,070-3050 m) [39]
southern Montana above 9,800 feet (>3000 m) [20]
Arizona (Geum triflorum var. ciliatum) 6,000 to 9,500 feet (1,800-2,900 m) [70]
northern New Mexico 7,000 to 9,000 feet (2,100-2,700 m) [87]
northwestern Wyoming 6,700 to 9,000 feet (2,040-2,700 m) [28]
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) [69]
British Columbia 3,480 to 7,434 feet (1,060-2,266 m) [73]
southeastern Oregon (G. t. var. ciliatum) 6,000 to 7,000 feet (1,800-3,400 m) [4]
northern Idaho to 2,900 feet (880 m) [7]

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 [6]. 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 [7]. 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 [24]. 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 [4].

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 [69], more mesic areas of sagebrush-dominated plains and lower foothills in the Pacific Northwest [61], moist streambanks and wet meadows in high valley and montane sites in the Intermountain West [36], and moist slopes in Colorado [58].

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) [75]. 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 [96]. 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 [97]. However, prairie smoke presence is probably reduced on sites where snowpack lasts into summer (Weaver 1970 as cited in [94]).

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 [109], dry prairie sites along the forest-prairie transition zone in north-central Minnesota [30], dry prairies in northern Illinois [95], xeric prairie habitats in Wisconsin [37], and "dry habitats" in Michigan [123]. 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 [48] 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 [81] 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 [73] 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 [85] 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.

Soils: 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 [69], as well as moist, well-drained soils in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah [51].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
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 [28] 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 [28]. Redmann and Schwartz [103] 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 [103]. 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 [88].

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 [31] 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 [31].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
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 [97]. Hitchcock and Cronquist [61] 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 [5] mid-May-early June
Uintas (northeastern Utah) [51] May-June
Pacific Northwest [61] April-early August
Intermountain West [36] June-August
Great Plains [54] April-June
northern New Mexico [87] May-June
Arizona [70] May-August
northern Illinois [95] May-June
western New York to Minnesota and Iowa [50] May-June (Geum triflorum var. triflorum)
Beartooth Plateau, southern Montana [20] late June-July
southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois [40] May-late June

Curtis [37] 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 [33].

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 [29].

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 ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Geum triflorum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Fire adaptations: Several studies have documented prairie smoke population-level responses to fire (see Fire Effects), including postfire increases [6,7,26]. Yet, as of this writing (2006), there is no published information documenting specific plant-level mechanisms by which prairie smoke responds to fire. Important areas for future inquiry might include, for example, the importance of vegetative (rhizome or caudex) postfire recovery compared with postfire seedling establishment, or the relative influence of fire severity or season of burning on these adaptations.

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 [7] or season [6] 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. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.

Community or ecosystem Dominant species Fire return interval range (years)
grand fir Abies grandis 35-200 [10]
bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [77,99]
Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [99]
silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [59,101,128]
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [99]
basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [106]
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 [99]
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 [99]
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 [10]
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. <35 [99]
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 [10]
Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-400+ [47,53,71,99]
Pacific ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47 [10]
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 [99]
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 [10]
bur oak Quercus macrocarpa <10 [124]
oak savanna Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [99,124]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [99]
mountain hemlock* Tsuga mertensiana 35 to >200 [10]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [117]:
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Caudex/herbaceous root crown, growing points in soil

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Geum triflorum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
As of this writing (2006), there is very little published information describing the immediate effects of fire on prairie smoke. Limited information suggests that prairie smoke may be top-killed by fire. For instance, McGee [89] cited a fall prescribed burn in which "all living and dead vegetation was consumed," and in which a small amount of prairie smoke was recorded in preburn plots. Provided sufficient fuel, it seems likely that fire in dry grassland and woodland habitats where prairie smoke typically occurs (see Distribution and Occurrence) has the potential to at least remove aboveground prairie smoke biomass.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
A study of postfire recovery in a southwestern Montana rangeland by Nimir and Payne [98] found limited evidence that fire reduces prairie smoke immediately after burning. Although specific fire dates were not provided, it may be inferred that prescribed burning was conducted sometime in late May or early June on 2 sites. The burns were described as incomplete, "leaving some areas completely unburned, some partially burned, and others completely burned." Site 1 had "the most complete burn," perhaps due to its greater exposure to sun and wind and earlier snowmelt, compared with site 2 where "the fire was much less intense." Weekly estimates of prairie smoke cover were averaged over a 12-week period following burning. On site 1, average cover was 1.70 sq dm2 / 20 sq dm on the unburned plots and 0.90 dm2 /20 dm2 on the burned plots. On site 2, average cover was 0.29 dm2/20 dm2 on the unburned plots and 0.20 dm2 /20 dm2 on the burned plots. The average cover values on site 1 were described as significantly (p< 0.01) different, while no difference in prairie smoke cover between burned and unburned plots was detected for site 2. Prairie smoke productivity, as measured in clipped plots, was described as significantly (no p-value provided) different between burned (32 kg/ha) and unburned (294 kg/ha) plots at site 1, while no information on prairie smoke productivity at site 2 was provided. Statistical methods were not described for this study. Based on the above information it was concluded that prairie smoke was "reduced by burning at both sites," and prairie smoke was included in a list of species "damaged" by fire [98].

Schwecke and Hann [110] 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 [110]). 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 [14] 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 [27] 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 [26] 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 [26]. 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 [6] 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 [6].

Another study documenting a variable response to burning suggests that postfire prairie smoke production may have been related to fire intensity. Armour and others [7] 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 [125] 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 [125].

McGee [89] 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
  1974 1975 1976 1974 1975 1976 1974 1975 1976
percent cover 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 1.0 1.2 1.8
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 [92] 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 [92].

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).


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Geum triflorum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Limited published information suggests that prairie smoke is probably not an important forage species for domestic livestock. Kearney and others [70] indicated it may provide forage for domestic sheep. Cattle were not observed grazing prairie smoke while on summer range on lower slopes of the Elkhorn Range, west-central Montana [52].

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 [96] and Montana State University Extension Service [80]. Daubenmire [38] 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 [96] 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 [52] 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 [65] recorded evidence of mule deer feeding on prairie smoke in central Montana, mainly in spring, and Singer [114] documented spring utilization by white-tailed deer in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park, Montana. Hansen and others ([57] 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 ([57] 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 ([57] and references therein). Mueggler and Stewart [96] 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 [72].

Cover value: No information is available on this topic.

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Dusek [45] 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.

OTHER USES:
No information is available on this topic.

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Susceptibility of prairie smoke to herbicides remains unclear. Blaisdell and others ([23] and references therein) indicated that prairie smoke is severely impacted by 2,4-D. A study by Lacey and others [79] 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 [104] 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 [111] 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 [111].

  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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