The North American temperate grasslands are characterized by long, sloping terrain covered with a variety of grasses and a distinct absence of trees. The American prairie was once home to vast roaming populations of buffalo that supported life for Native American populations. Today, the plants of the temperate grassland survive, though they are at risk because of invasive species competing with them for resources.
Big bluestem is a tall grass native to the prairies of the Midwest. The blades of this grass are colored a blueish purple and can reach heights of up to 10 feet, according to Blue Planet Biomes. The plant is known as a bunch grass because it grows in dense stands that keep other grasses from finding enough light to grow. Big bluestem also has a deep root system that works to preserve the soil and fight wind erosion.
Indian grass is native to the North American temperate grasslands. The plant is characterized by blue-green leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall months. This grass can reach heights of up to 12 inches. According to the Rain Scaping website, Indian grass is very tolerant of poor-quality, dry soils and is drought-tolerant and winter-hardy. Indian grass also provides ideal nesting grounds for songbirds and game birds alike.
Blazing star is an American prairie wildflower characterized by its upright growth and deep-purple feather-like flower heads. According to the Nature Conservancy, more than 30 different species of blazing star exist across the North American temperate grassland. The flower blooms in the summer months and lasts until September. Plant heights can reach up to 48 inches at maturity. The Nature Conservancy states the plant thrives in home gardens just as well as in its natural habitat on the prairie.
Queen Anne's Lace
According to the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, Queen Anne's lace is a non-native plant species growing in amongst native plants throughout the temperate grasslands of North America. The plant is an herbaceous biennial that favors the dry soils of the grasslands, with small white flowers and green stalks that reach heights of up to 4 feet. The problem Queen Anne's lace presents for the American prairie is its growth rate --- one plant can produce as many as 40,000 seeds. This can be a threat to recovering grasslands if the plant outpaces the growth of native grasses and starves them of nutrients.
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