This week's plant really smokes out the competition! Prairie Smoke, also known as Old Man's Whiskers or Purple Avens, is a native North American perennial. Prairie Smoke is a distinctive prairie wildflower with gorgeous and feathery pink seed heads. Each flowering stem has three hanging pink bell-shaped flowers.

Prairie smoke is among the earliest bloomers on the prairie, making it valuable for hungry pollinators when resources are still scarce. Uniquely, the leaves on this species can persist through the early winter, turning attractive shades of red and crimson.

Prairie Smoke can be a great companion plant for your spring flowering bulbs, filling in the areas when your other plants die back. These plants spread slowly to form a groundcover that could be perfectly suited for your rock garden!

While being beneficial to pollinator species, this plant also has medicinal properties. Native Americans valued Prairie Smoke for a variety of uses. The roots and foliage can be steeped in a tea for sore throats, stomach issues, and even abdominal cramps!Leave the neighbor's garden in your smoke with this lesser known diamond in the rough. Prairie Smoke will make sure your garden is the first on the block to have some color next spring!

By: Kade Kaat, City of Madison Engineering Division

Each week during the growing season, the Engineering Division focuses in on a Plant of the Week to raise awareness of different plants in the field that benefit our environment. The Engineering crews in the field tasked with conservation share expert insight on these plants and their benefits each week in a creative way!

prairie smoke

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Engineering and a link back to the original post.