This plant has drooping reddish-purple, feathery flowers, often 3 to a stem, that resemble puffs of smoke. The plant can grow 6 to 12 in in height and has mostly basal leaves.
Prairie smoke is found throughout much of the western United States, as far east as Wisconsin. Some plants are also known to occur in New York State. Its range stretches north into the far reaches of Canada. The plume and feather-like styles that elongate after the petals begin to fade away give the smoky look to this flower when it waves in the wind.