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Special Collections

Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie

This collection profiles wildflowers of the tallgrass prairie. Stretching over 250 million acres, the tallgrass prairie was once the largest ecosystem in the United States. Its deep rich soils made excellent farmland. By 1860, most of the tallgrass prairies had fallen to the plow. Today, only about one million acres remain, making tallgrass prairie one of the most threatened natural communities. Native grasses form the prairie framework, comprising 50 to 95 percent of the vegetation. The four dominant species in the tallgrass prairie are little bluestem, big bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass. Forbs (broadleaf herbs), an integral part of the prairie, provide most of the species diversity. Most prairie species are perennials that die back in the winter. The wildflowers included in this collection are some of the most common tallgrass prairie species.

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scientific namecommon name(s)image gallery
Penstemon albidusWhite penstemon
White beardtongue
Red-line penstemon
Red-line beardtongue
Phlox pilosaDowny phlox
Prairie phlox
Fragrant phlox
Pulsatilla patensEastern pasqueflower
American Pasqueflower
Ratibida pinnataPinnate prairie coneflower
Grayhead Mexican hat
Yellow coneflower
Grayhead coneflower
Rudbeckia hirtaBlack-eyed Susan
Common black-eyed Susan
Brown-eyed Susan
Sisyrinchium angustifoliumNarrowleaf blue-eyed grass
Narrow-leaf blue-eyed-grass
Bermuda blue-eyed grass
Blue-eyed grass
Silphium laciniatumCompassplant
Compass plant
Tradescantia ohiensisBluejacket
Ohio spiderwort
Vernonia baldwiniiBaldwin's ironweed
Western Ironweed
Ironweed
Viola pedatifidaPrairie violet
Purple prairie violet
Larkspur violet
Crow-foot violet
Coastal violet
scientific namecommon name(s)image gallery

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