Geum canadense (White Avens)

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 5-31-18, #450-23.

White Avens

Geum canadense

JEE-um  ka-na-DEN-see

Synonyms of Geum canadense (15) (Updated on 1-12-23 from Plants of the World Online):  Caryophyllata alba Moench, Geum album J.F.Gmel., Geum album var. simplicifolium C.A.Mey., Geum camporum Rydb., Geum canadense f. adenophorum Fernald & Weath., Geum canadense var. brevipes Fernald, Geum canadense var. camporum (Rydb.) Fernald & Weath., Geum canadense f. glandulosum Fernald & Weath., Geum canadense var. grimesii Fernald & Weath., Geum canadense var. texanum Fernald & Weath., Geum carolinianum Walter, Geum glutinosum Pursh ex Lehm., Geum laciniosum Murray, Geum meyerianum Rydb., Sieversia caroliniana G.Don

Geum canadense Jacq. is the accepted scientific name for the White Avens. It was named and described as such by Nicolaus Jacquin in Hortus Botanicus Vindobonensis in 1773.

The genus, Geum L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 1-12-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 53 species in the Geum genus. Geum is a member of the plant family Rosaceae with a total of 110 species. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map of Geum canadense from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved on March 24, 2020.

The above distribution map for Geum canadense is from Plants of the World Online. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is the same.

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 5-31-18, #450-24.

When I started getting more into wildflower ID on the farm in 2018 I noticed the strange flowers on this plant behind the pond in the back pasture on May 31. Getting good photos of the flowers for ID was not easy and most came out blurry. Something you don’t always know until you upload them on the computer.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 5-31-18, #450-25.

I was primarily using the Missouri Plants website for ID at the time which is a very good website. They use A LOT of botanical terminology so it is a good thing they have a glossary. Geum canadense is quite complicated to explain because it has several leaf types, which may or may not be on the plants at the same time… So, on the plants at the back of the pond on May 31 in 2018, there were no basal leaves that I noticed… Just from the flowers and photos of what leaves I photographed, I was able to identify this species as Geum canadense whose common name is White Avens.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 8-28-19, #616-3..

I was unable to return to the spot where I found the Geum canadense until August 28 in 2019 because I was fairly busy over the summer. The hayfields were grown up making it more difficult to get to the back of the farm until after the hay was cut. Luckily, I didn’t miss the flowers.

I will try to write a good description of the plants, from top to bottom, in layman’s terms so can understand what I’m talking about… I wanted better close-ups but they haven’t come out so good “YET”. I will keep trying…

The flowers of this species are rather interesting consisting of 5 fairly broad white petals and 5 triangular-shaped green sepals. The main part of the flower consists of a multitude of stamens (male part of the flowers) that surround the green carpels (female part of the flowers) in the center. If you want more detailed descriptions, you can click on a few of the links at the bottom of the page.

The flowers appear to be unscented.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 8-28-19, #616-4. 

From the bottom, you can see the 5 triangular-shaped green sepals. I managed to get better photos by removing a flower and using a magnifying glass. Otherwise, the flowers kept moving in the breeze… Oh yeah, those small “bractlets” (as Missouri Plants call them) between the sepals turn downward with age…

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 8-28-19, #616-5.

Now for the leaves… Well, that is the most difficult part because there are several types of leaves… The plants behind the pond didn’t have basal leaves just as in 2018. The leaves on the upper part of the stem (upper cauline leaves) are tri-lobed and have fairly long petioles (leaf stems). The stems are kind of hairy (pubescent), but the hairs are short. I think the other Geum species in Missouri have longer hairs.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 8-28-19, #616-6.

The plant’s stem and branches terminate with 1-3 flowers…

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 8-30-19, #618-20.

I found more plants in another area on August 30… The upper leaves are very similar to the three other species described on the Missouri Plants website. You have to look at the flowers and stems…

Geum canadense White Avens) on 8-30-19, #618-21.

In the above photo, you can see the upper tri-lobed leaves. The stems are generally densely covered with tiny hairs (densely pubescent)…

OK, I will cheat just don’t tell anyone. Missouri Plants says the leaves are, “alternate, petiolate, stipulate, serrate, pubescent below, sparse appressed pubescent above. Stipules foliaceous, lobed, serrate to entire, pubescent, to 2 cm long, + 1 cm broad. Petioles long on basal leaves, reduced above (to -1 cm long), pubescent. Lower cauline leaves typically trifoliate. Lateral leaflets oblique at base, sessile, acute. Central leaflet, sessile, acute. Upper leaves lobed too simple.”

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 8-30-19, #618-22.

The above photo is what the fruit looks like…


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-21-20, #678-3.

When spring came and I started taking photos of the early wildflowers. I thought I better get some photos of the spring rosettes of the Geum canadense. It is pretty hard to imagine the plants from 2018 and 2018 look like this when they first come up in the spring. I took these photos in the backyard in the shade bed instead of having to go all the way to the back of the farm to get photos.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-21-20, #678-4.

Again, other Geum species have similar rosettes of leaves in the spring, but the Geum vernum by the chicken house keeps its basil leaves throughout the season. GEEZ! Maybe these photos are leaves of Geum vernum… Well, it was very difficult to tell on March 21.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-21-20, #678-5.

Well, I am pretty sure these leaves belong to Geum canadense

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-21-20, #678-6.

I intended to keep an eye on this plant but it was in the wrong place. SO, it ultimately was removed.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-21-20, #678-7.

There is a patch of Geum in the lot next to the chicken house that didn’t have basal leaves during the summer. The upper leaves looked similar to blackberry leaves, which some of the Geum canadense leaves do…

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-21-20, #678-8.

I know I screwed up and took photos of three colonies of Geum on 4-23-20 and kind of got them mixed up. Again, I intended to keep an eye on them during the summer but became very busy… You know the rest of the story…


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 7-8-21, #809-19.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 7-8-21, #809-20.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 7-8-21, #809-21.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-7.

I stumbled upon this leaf with seed from what used to be a flower. The leaf, partly missing, looked almost like it was from a grapevine. Then I remembered what it was… Sometimes we forget what is where especially when the flowers are gone…

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-8.

I am glad I was able to take a good photo of the dried achenes with hooked tips…

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-9.

A better leaf with the achenes…


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 3-20-22, #862-14.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 4-12-22, #868-1.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 4-12-22, #868-2.


Geum canadense (White Avens) on 6-21-22, #893-1.

I need to do some work on this page sometime in 2023 AFTER updates are made over the winter.

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the blog). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.


NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂


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