Prairie Smoke often forms small patches in moist, open meadows since it can spread vegetatively by underground stems. This is a common method of reproduction in high elevation species where reproduction by seed may not always be successful under the harsh climatic conditions.
Prairie Smoke is a member of the Rose family although the flowers show little obvious similarity to familiar roses. The fruits develop long, feathery appendages that catch the wind and disperse the seeds over large distances. These give the plant its common names “Prairie Smoke” or “Old Man’s Beard” in some parts of the country. It grows not only in high elevation western meadows but can also be found in prairie grasslands in some midwestern states.