Mountain Aven Flowers: Learn About Mountain Aven Growing Conditions
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What is a mountain aven? Also known as alpine dryad or arctic dryad, mountain aven plants (Dryas integrifolia/octopetala) are ground-hugging, blooming plants that thrive in cold, sunny mountainous locations. The plant is primarily found in alpine meadows and rocky, barren ridges. This little wildflower grows in the western United States and Canada. Mountain aven flowers are found in the Cascade and Rocky mountains and are common as far north as Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Mountain aven is also the national flower of Iceland.
Mountain Aven Facts
Mountain avens consist of low-growing, mat-forming plants with small, leathery leaves. They root at nodes along the creeping stems, which makes these little plants valuable members of the ecosystem for their ability to stabilize loose, gravelly mountain slopes. This charming little plant is distinguished by small, eight-petalled blooms with yellow centers.
Mountain aven plants are not at risk, probably because they grow in punishing climates visited primarily by the most intrepid hikers and mountaineers. Unlike many other wildflowers, mountain aven flowers are not threatened by urban development and habitat destruction.
Mountain Aven Growing
Mountain aven plants are suitable for the home garden, but only if you live in a chilly region. Don’t waste your time if you live in a warm, humid climate, as mountain avens are suitable for growing only in the cool northern climes of USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 6.
If you live north of zone 6, mountain aven plants are relatively easy to grow in well-drained, gritty, alkaline soil. Full sunlight is a must; mountain aven won’t tolerate shade.
Mountain aven seeds require stratification, and the seeds should be planted in pots in a sheltered outdoor location or cold frame as soon as possible. Germination may take anywhere from a month to a year, depending on growing conditions.
Plant the seedlings in individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle, then let the plants spend their first winter in a greenhouse environment before planting them in their permanent home.
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How to Grow Geum Plants in your Garden
Geum plants are hardy perennials that range from 15 to 90 cm in height.
They bloom in the summer when they carry circular red, white, purple or yellow flowers.
Commonly grown species in the garden are Mountain Avens, Wood Avens, White, yellow and purple Avens, and Alpine Avens.
Some of the common latin name of Geum species include Geum triflorum, Geum chiloense, Geum borisii and Geum aleppicum.
Health Benefits of Avens
Geum urbanum herb and roots have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea for treatment of rheumatism, gout, infections, and fever. Modern herbalists use it to treat diarrhea, heart disease, halitosis and mouth ulcers, and to prevent colic. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific evidence. Listed below are few of the health benefits of using Avens
1. Treatment for Hemorrhoids
This herb is also utilized in treatment of symptoms which lead to hemorrhoids. These are used in the ointments which are made as cure for these issues.
2. Helpful in treating a number of Digestive Issues
This herb has been known to be utilized in treating number of digestive issues such as diarrhea as well as bowel infections. Powder produced from its roots has been known to facilitate easy digestion as well as absorption of food.
3. Helps in Maintaining the Health of Liver
This herb is also known to facilitate the process of detoxification in the body. It mostly clears the liver out of its toxins and is utilized for maintaining its health.
4. Helps in Maintaining Skin Health
As mentioned before, the decoction produced from the roots of this herb is utilized for treating scars as well as wrinkles on the skin. It is one of the very common ingredients utilized in numerous beauty creams.
5. Maintain Oral Health
This herb is extensively being used in maintaining the oral health and thus tightening of gums as well as treating any oral issue being caused. It also helps in treating any throat allergy while at the same time maintaining the stomach health.
6. Acts an anti-dote for some poison
Roots of this herb is also known to act against the issues of food poisoning and are a good option to consume in case suffering from poisoning due to alkaloids as well as heavy metal poisoning.
7. Helps in Relieving Fever
Avens are one of the common herbs which have been utilized for relieving issues such as fever. It can be stored in the dried form and the can be used as first aid in numerous such conditions.
8. Helpful in Cases of Menstruation
Avens are known to be very much helpful in treating excessive vaginal discharge while at the same time relieving the symptoms of PMS.
Ayurvedic Health benefits of Avens
- Nausea: Take one cup of water and add 2 tbsp of dried Avens root. Steep for 10 minutes. Drink one cup regularly for 2-3 days.
- Diarrhea: Soak one tbsp Avens rootstock in one cup of water for half an hour. Take half cup before going to bed.
Traditional uses and benefits of Avens
- Wood avens is an astringent herb, used mainly to treat problems affecting the mouth, throat and gastro-intestinal tract.
- It tightens up soft gums, heals mouth ulcers, makes a good gargle for infections of the pharynx and larynx, and decreases irritation of the stomach and gut.
- All parts of the plant, but particularly the root, are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stomachic, styptic and tonic.
- An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of diarrhea, intestinal disorders, stomach upsets, irritable bowel syndrome and liver disorders.
- It is also applied externally as a wash to hemorrhoids, vaginal discharges etc. and to treat various skin afflictions.
- It is said to remove spots, freckles and eruptions from the face.
- Powdered root had a great reputation as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of intermittent fevers.
- Wood avens was stated to be a treatment for poison and dog bites.
- Geum urbanum herb and roots have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea for treatment of rheumatism, gout, infections, and fever.
- Modern herbalists use it to treat diarrhea, heart disease, halitosis and mouth ulcers, and to prevent colic.
- Root is used as a spice in soups, stews etc., and also as a flavoring in ale.
- It is a substitute for cloves with a hint of cinnamon in the flavor.
- Root is boiled to make a beverage.
- Dried Herb or Root = 1 to 4 gram equivalent 3 times daily.
- Infusion = 1/2 oz. of the powdered root or herb to 1 pint of boiling water, strained and taken cold.
- Decoction = Same as the infusion except that it is boiled down to half of the original liquid content. Or 1 tsp powdered root or herb with 1 cup water 1 cup taken daily.
- Fluid Extract of the plant = 1 drachm
- Fluid extract of the root = ½ to 1 drachm
- Root Tincture = 10 drops, 3 times daily
- Powder = ¼ to ½ tsp 3 times daily.
- Simple Tincture = Pour 1 pint of 80 to 100 proof vodka or other liquor (wine can also be used) over 1 oz. of the bruised root. Allow to steep (mascerate) for 14 days and then filter through paper. 2 or 3 tsp of this tincture are taken in any watery drink or in a glass of wine for a dose.
- Compound Tincture = 1½ oz. avens root 1 oz. each of bruised Angelica root and bruised Tormentil root 2 oz. raisins, 2 pints French brandy. Macerate for 1 month in a warm place. The same ingredients can also be macerated in a quart of wine.
- For Diarrhea and Sore Throat: The infusion is taken strained and taken cold in wineglassful doses 3 to 4 times daily.
- As a Tonic the usual dose of the powdered herb or root is 15 to 30 grains.
Tonic tincture blend
- 1 1/2 oz. (50 g) avens root
- 1 oz. (30 g) angelica root
- 1 oz. (30 g) cinquefoil root
- 1 1/2 oz. (50 g) dried raisins
- 1 1/2 oz. (50 g) dried raisins
- 4 cups (1 liter) brandy
Combine all the ingredients in a large jar. Store away from light for 1 month. Shake every 2 or 3 days. Strain.
Take 1 oz. (25 ml) before each meal in case of a lack of appetite or a weak stomach, and 1 hour after each meal in the event of sluggish digestion or flatulence. It is used as a pick-me-up when convalescing or overcoming fatigue, and also as an anti-diarrheic.
- The freshly dug root has a clove-like fragrance, when dried it is used in the linen cupboard to repel moths.
- Root is used as a spice in soups and also for flavoring ale.
- In folklore, wood avens is credited with the power to drive away evil spirits, and to protect against rabid dogs and venomous snakes.
- Avoid use during pregnancy, breast feeding.
- Excessive consumption of this herb should be avoided as it tends to cause issue such as severe stomach ache.
- It should not be taken for more than two days in a row.
Nunavut is home to some of the most beautiful and resilient plant life in the world. As the spring snow thaws, you immediately see the explosion of plants and flowers that signals the arrival of Arctic summer. The sights and smells will fill you with hope and wonder.
As you move across the land, you will see that it is teeming with beautiful and intricate mosses, lichen and flowers. Plants like Arctic Willow, standing tall in the wind will contrast on the micro level the enormity of the rolling tundra and mountains.
In the late summer, entire communities spend hours every day gathering berries. These small but delicious blackberries, blueberries and bake apple berries are a treat and people will efficiently pluck them by the thousands. The sense of peace on the tundra, absorbed in the moment and soaking in the summer sun, is like a meditation. Just follow the crowd and find your own patch of tundra to take part in this annual tradition.
The territorial flower of Nunavut is the purple saxifrage (saxifraga oppositifolia). The Inuit name. 'aupaluktunnguat.' is the plural Inuktitut word for these vivid purple blooms. Purple Saxifrage is common throughout the territory. These beautiful flowers are the first to bloom in the summer, and you will be transfixed by the contrast as they emerge on still snow covered ground. Used for tea and to treat stomach problems, the Purple Saxifrage is an important part of Inuit life and heritage of living with the land.
Inuit have learned to use the plants and flowers of Nunavut for medicine, food and beautiful symbolism in art. Local guides will be able to identify these wondrous plants and their uses for you.
Arctic cotton (eriophorum), also called cottongrass, is a sedge plant that thrives in acidic bog habitats. It grows abundantly in the tundra and its silky white plumes have long been collected by the Inuit to be used as wicks for the traditional seal-oil lamp known as a 'qulliq' in Inuktitut.
Arctic fireweed (chamerion latifolium), also called dwarf fireweed or river beauty willowherb is a nutritious species of flowering primrose plant. Inuit steep the leaves in water for tea and also eat the leaves, flowers and fruits raw, often as a salad. It tastes a bit like spinach.
Arctic white heather (cassiope tetragona) is a highly resinous dwarf shrub plant. The leaves are evergreen and its bell-shaped flowers are yellowish white with pink lobes. Inuit traditionally collected this plant for use as a bedding material in summer camps. Its branches are still widely used as fuel by Inuit families spending time on the land.
The arctic willow (salix arctica) is a tiny creeping member of the Salicaceae family. Fluffy willow catkins emerge before the snow disappears completely. The hairs of pussy willows are transparent, which conduct sunlight into the plant, warming it to several degrees above the surrounding air temperature.
Labrador tea (rhododendron tomentosum) is a wetland shrub plant of the Heath family with strongly aromatic leaves that can be used to make a delicious herbal tea that has been a favourite beverage of Inuit people for thousands of years.
Lapland rosebay (rhododendron lapponicum) is a small tundra shrub plant with a purple flower. The woody stem of a Lapland rosebay plant, which usually grows no thicker than a person's finger, may contain as many as 400 annual growth rings!
Moss campion (silene acaulis) is small, evergreen perennial wildflower also known as cushion pink. It is common all over the high arctic and tundra regions of Nunavut. As a low, ground hugging plant, it is often densely matted and moss-like. Thick clumps of this plant have a substantial taproot, which is edible.
The mountain aven (dryas octopetala) is a small evergreen shrub of the Rosaceae family. Its botanic name comes from the Greek words 'octo' (eight) and 'petalon' (petal), referring to the eight petals of its distinctive small white flower. Eight is common, but this flower also naturally occurs with up to sixteen petals. The Inuit named this flower 'malikkat' in Inuktitut, which means 'the follower,' because it moves throughout the day to always face the sun.
Mountain sorrel (oxyria digyna), also called alpine sorrel, is a species of flowering plant in the buckwheat family. It is most commonly found in the tundra around animal dens, bird roosts and old Inuit campsites where the thin arctic soil has been enriched with nitrogen. Some other Nunavut plants that employ this same survival strategy are chickweed and stitchwort.
Wintergreen (gaultheria procumbens) is variety of creeping shrub that, as its name suggests, remains green throughout the year. This botanical characteristic is commonly now called evergreen. The round leaves of wintergreen plants are very tough in order to survive freezing, retaining their colour when dormant in order to maximize photosynthesis as soon as they thaw in the sunshine.
The yellow cinquefoil (dasiphora fruticosa), also called shrubby cinquefoil, is a shrub of the Rosaceae family. It often grows inside dense clumps of mosses and lichens that provide extra warmth and protection. Its bright yellow flowers appear in the spring once the snow has melted.
Alpine bearberry (arctostaphylos alpina) is a procumbent shrub that spreads along the ground from its main taproot without making any new roots. It has small white flowers and dark purple berries that are almost black when ripe. In the late summer, the foliage of this plant turns a brilliant scarlet red, colouring entire hillsides.
Blueberries (vaccinium corymbosum) are perennial flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium. Harvested every summer in Nunavut for many centuries by Inuit women and children, these low-lying plants provide a small but sweet, abundant and highly nutritious fruit.
Northern cranberries (vaccinium oxycoccus microcarpus) belong to the same Vaccinium genus as blueberries, bilberries and huckleberries. The flowers are dark pink, with a purple central spike, growing on hairy stems. The fruit is a small pale pink berry with a refreshingly sharp acidic flavour. They are great for cooking!
The crowberry (empetrum) is a variety of dwarf evergreen shrub, which bears an edible fruit that looks similar to a blueberry and is smaller than an alpine bearberry. Black, plump crowberries are a favourite of the Inuit. Their many seeds give them a gritty texture.
Lichens (cladoniaceae) are not single plants — they are instead a symbiotic association of algae and fungi cells living together. The ubiquitous map lichen is named for its map-like appearance on rock faces. The rock tripe lichen is edible and Caribou moss, which is actually a lichen, is a winter staple food for caribou.
Alaska Wildflower Books by Verna Pratt
Alaska Wildflower Books by Verna and Frank Pratt
Verna Pratt’s books on wildflowers have been the bible of Alaska wildflowers for decades. Her descriptions, photos, and easy to use categorization make flowers easy to identify when you are out in the field on a hike or traveling the byways of Alaska. This link will take you to Greatland Graphics where you can purchase these great field resources.
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
Of the many Alaska wildflowers, the most well know is the fireweed, which reaches peak bloom by late July and early August (depending on geography). Many roadside corridors are enflamed in pink with this abundant wildflower. Fireweed honey is a delicately flavored honey, gathered by some honey bees whose hives are situated near large fields of fireweed. The many blossomed plant blooms first at the bottom, and an old Alaskan saying claims that by the time the fireweed blossoms at the very top, the first snowfall is only six weeks away. Alaska’s short, but aggressive growing season yields fields of wildflower color in the summer months.
Midnight sunset over dwarf fireweed, or river beauty, along the Marsh Fork of the Canning River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the Brooks Range mountains, Alaska. (Patrick J Endres / AlaskaPhotoGraphics.com)
Alaska Poppies (Papaver alaskanum)
In spite of chilly and windy conditions in the mountains, blankets of color fill valleys and cover meadows, like this yellow field of Alaska poppies at nearly 4000 feet elevation in Highway Pass, along the Denali National Park Road. It is a wonder that the small petals of this delicate plant remain attached amidst the blustery winds that rip across the alpine tundra!
Summer wildflowers, moss campion and Alaska poppies in bloom in Highway Pass in Denali National Park, Alaska. (Patrick J. Endres / AlaskaPhotoGraphics.com)
Frigid Shooting Star (Dodecatheon frigidum)
The Frigid Shooting Star is most abundant in wet tundra meadows and alpine slopes from June to mid-July. It gets its name from its unique shape and blooms to about 10″ high with magenta flowers with a white ring. As is common with a number of Alaska wildflowers, there are a few variations to the Shooting star, and it may differ slightly in height based on location and climate.
Bright pink blossoms of frigid shooting star, Abercrombie state park, Kodiak Island, Alaska. (Patrick J. Endres / AlaskaPhotoGraphics.com)
Alaska’s Wild Iris can be found in the Interior and the southern parts of the state in June, one of the summer’s earliest blooming flowers. It often grows in clusters and sometimes even in large fields filled with the drooping purple blossom. It prefers wet environments and is commonly viewed along roadside ditches and marshy areas that hold moisture well. It’s delicate petals range from light to deep, rich purple, and photographers are often observed crouched in the roadside flower patches, lost in the splendor and design of this elegant plant. It is also used as a decorative plant for landscaping, and some locals have been known to harvest bulbs from the roadside patches to transplant around their home as garden elements.
Mountain Aven Facts - What Is A Mountain Aven Plant And Where Does It Grow - garden
Dryas octopetala Mountain Avens R DD N
This is mountain plant in Europe and I have seen it in flower at 5,000 feet in Austria. It also grows in North Wales at about 1,500 feet in Snowdonia and in Northern Western Scotland on hillsides.
In the far North of Scotland however it grows at sea level. It covers the coastal hillsides near the Bettyhill reserve (North Coast of Scotland) for instance. The Left hand photo was taken on the Burren in the Republic of Ireland which defies all the logic above as it was near sea level (only 200 metres from the sea) and fairly far south in County Clare. The fluffy thing next to the flower is a Dryas seed head.
Apart from the colony in the mountains of Wales and a little in the northern Pennines this is a plant of the far north of Scotland most records coming from the north west in the hills and on the coast. In Ireland most records come from The Burren in the Republic but there are a few in northern Ireland as well.
LHS: Inchnadampf, Scotland 19th June 2006 RHS:The Burren, County Clare, Ireland 12th June 2003
Added on January 24th 2005, updated 15th December 2008, updated 28th March 2010
Geum Species, 3-Flower Avens, Grandpa's Whiskers, Old Man's Beard, Prairie Smoke
USDA Zone 1: below -45.6 °C (-55 °F)
USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 °C (-50 °F)
USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 °C (-45 °F)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Where to Grow:
Soil pH requirements:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
On May 19, 2017, JBtheExplorer from Southeast, WI wrote:
If you like unique and interesting plants, this is one to add to your list. It blooms in early Spring. The flowers are interesting, and they eventually turn into "troll hair". The foliage is also interesting. I've heard that plant looks great when you plant a lot of them together, and I could definitely see that to be true. It's also a North American native plant, which is important if you like helping native wildlife.
On Jan 30, 2014, hitchingpost770 from COTOPAXI, CO wrote:
Grows well here in full sun with drip irrigation once a week. Rabbits don't like--amazing! Flowers twice a year. Minimal care.
On Nov 27, 2010, hillfarm from Quesnel, BC (Zone 4a) wrote:
Lovely little wildflower in the dry central interior of British Columbia. This plant is often grown in gardens, but I enjoy it in the wild in its natural habitat a good reason to take a walk & scout out what's blooming. The seedheads are my favourite thing - showy & long lasting. Great plant. Zone 2 for sure, probably Zone 1 with some snow cover.
On Jan 20, 2010, Purplegoat from Ortonville, MI wrote:
I LOVE this plant. I am most familiar with it through a favorite vacation spot in SD, but I know that it does grow in MI (although now 'threatened'). I have always wanted to try some in our yard, and have finally gotten the courage to attempt germinating some. I know that it must have time in the fridge for awhile, as indicated. Any feedback on success stories would be most interesting to read.
On Feb 22, 2009, BeckyMcPherson from Valley, WA wrote:
We live between two small towns, Springdale and Valley, Washington. Our immediate area is evergreen forest, with space between for wildflowers. I first spotted the prairie smoke flowers several years ago, where the edge of the garden and woods meet. I was curious about it, and found it in a wildflower book. The deer seemed to shun this plant--until I started to prefer it, and pay attention to it--give it a little water. Then, it was eaten with relish by the deer. I've noticed this deer response over and over--if you like it, then they will come! Ha, ha.
This plant is definitely interesting, and I am glad to hear it can be transplanted.
On Jun 17, 2007, msbomar from Gettysburg, PA wrote:
We garden in zone 6. I have 3 year old prairie smoke plants. They have never "poofed" much. They flower well and spread generously, but they don't get the "bad hair day" look that is so charming about them. Also, one plant which seems ok in other ways is a lighter green and droops more quickly in heat.
On Apr 18, 2006, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:
I've successfully transplanted Geum triflorum into one of my mulched bed from a very generous plant trader.
The plants stayed evergreen throughout my zone 7b winter, successfully in our winter wet conditions. The foliage is a bit fuzzy and grows in a rosette.
This year they flowered and the buds seem to stay closed. The petals don't flare out. They started flowering in early spring, through spring frost and the flowers remain now, unfaded, which is April 18th.
I've found that the plants flower better and grow stronger in part sun, maybe even more sun, than the plants that were shaded by my Campanula. Update 11/26/06
It's now fall and my plants are flowering again. Not as much as in the spring but I'm pretty happy . read more about this added bonus.
On Sep 20, 2004, nevrest from Broadview, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:
Beautiful early spring wildflower, that adds color for many weeks as first there are the deep pink flowers (as a kid we called them wild bleeding hearts), then the seed heads form and are pink and green then almost golden, they do indeed in a large group look like smoke over the land.
On Sep 19, 2004, julie88 from Muscoda, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:
Prairie Smoke grows wild here in Zone 4b in the margins of the sandy, reforested pine areas along the Wisconsin River. In the spring, it's not uncommon to find large, mostly shaded, areas covered with the pink, airy, hair-like flowers of this plant. When a person finally notices them, one can't help but stop and smile at their appearance. They have that "bad hair day-look," something like the little "troll" dolls that once were so popular. Quite an eye-opening experience.
On Mar 27, 2001, Ehowell from Weyburn, SK wrote:
This pretty little wildflower is native to Saskatchewan. In the SE part it is protected and we are not supposed to even pick the flowers. As the area was settled and the land was broken for farming many of the native plants disappeared. Now there are certain areas set aside to remain in their natural state. There is one such preserve on the edge of the city wher I live.(Weyburn, Sask. Can) It is called Tatagwa Parkway and we can wander about and see the native plants. We called these plants crocuses when we were kids and always took a bouquet home to mother.