In North America, you can find tallgrass prairie, mixed-grass prairie, or shortgrass prairie.
- Tallgrass: Its main feature is tall grasses, such as indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).
- Mixed-grass: A transition area between tallgrass prairies and shortgrass prairies.
- Shortgrass: The two most dominant grasses are blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides); the two less dominant grasses are greasegrass (Tridens flavus) and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula).
There are three types of prairies: wet, mesic, and dry.
- Wet prairies have moist soil. Water drainage is usually poor. As a result, bogs and fens may form. The soil is excellent farming soil.
- Mesic prairies have good soil and good drainage. They are endangered due to converting to agricultural use.
- Dry prairies can have wet to very dry soil during growing season. They have good drainage and can be found on uplands and slopes.
More information on prairies:
“America’s Grasslands: A Threatened National Treasure”
“Preserving the Tallgrass Prairie”
“Last Stand of the Tallgrass Prairie (excerpt)”
“Karval Short Grass Prairie Center”
PHOTO: Meads milkweed