The continental areas that are dominated by the presence of various grasses, along with bushes and trees present intermittently are called grassland biome regions. These areas exhibit a mind-blowing diversity of plant life, as their conditions for thriving of the floral species are quite favorable. Read this article to gain a spectacular insight into the world of grassland biome vegetation.
One of the most endangered ecosystems on our planet, the temperate grasslands cover only 8% of the Earth’s surface, and this area is fast decreasing due to rampant deforestation and urbanization. The Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative (TGCI) aims to protect grassland areas all over the world, and helps reduce the damage caused, as much as possible.
Plants of the Grassland Biome
The following section provides you with some marvelous and utterly beautiful pictures of the following:
- Flowering perennial plants
- Shrubs, herbs, and trees
The most dominant variety of vegetation found in grasslands, the grass species differ from each other in terms of appearance, size, color, family, etc. Numerous types of weeds, grain grasses, sedges, rushes, and reeds grow in these wild plains.
Binomial Name: Agrostis perennans
This type of grass is found mostly in the North and South American grasslands. It grows in the form of bunches, and the stems have an average height of 50 cm.
Binomial Name: Andropogon gerardii
This plant is found mainly in the Prairie regions of the USA, and its height is around 3 meters. It is characterized by the presence of a hard and strong stem, and roots that extend deep in the soil.
Binomial Name: Festuca glauca
Characterized by the appearance of a pale-blue- to bluish-gray-colored foliage, this grass is found in arid shrublands and drought-prone grasslands. It can grow up to an average height of 15-16 cm.
Binomial Name: Calamagrostis canadensis
It grows up to an average height of 1 meter, and is found all over the United States and Canada. The leaves are faint purple in color, and tiny hair-like projections are present on the leaves.
Binomial Name: Andropogon virginicus
Also called whiskey grass, as it was utilized for the packing of whiskey bottles, this sedge is mainly found in the USA. It is generally categorized under the category of agricultural weeds.
Binomial Name: Conyza canadensis
This grassland plant is classified as an agricultural weed, and in the USA, its growth in the plains is difficult to control. It can grow up to a meter tall, and its flowers are white-colored with a tinge of purple.
Chinese Dwarf Bamboo
Binomial Name: Bambusa guangxiensis
This is a very short variety of the bamboo tree, and it is extensively found in the Chinese subcontinental region. It grows up to an average height of 3-4 m.
Binomial Name: Pennisetum purpureum
One of the tallest grass varieties to be found in the grassland biome, the elephant grass can grow up to a height of 10 feet. The peculiar name exists due to its ability to mask elephants behind its extent in the plains.
Binomial Name: Stipa
It appears like feathers fixed on thin stems, and is mainly found worldwide in grasslands of the USA, Europe, African Savannahs, etc. It is a favorite choice for grazing animals in such regions.
Binomial Name: Koeleria macrantha
This plant grows naturally, as well as can be cultivated. It can reach heights of up to about half a meter, and can cause allergies in some people. It grows across the United States and Mexico.
Binomial Name: Festuca rubra
This perennial variety is mostly found in the temperate grasslands, and it thrives in soil that has very good drainage. On an average, it can grow up to 15 cm tall.
Binomial Name: Lolium perenne
Another common variety of grasses, this species grows in the wild pastures, as well as can be cultivated. These plants can decrease the rate of soil erosion in an area quite effectively.
Binomial Name: Miscanthus sinensis
Also called South American elephant grass, this variety is also found in Asiatic regions like China and Japan. Its height is around 2 meters.
Binomial Name: Aristida purpurea
This grass is characterized by the presence of narrow, elongated, and sharp spikes or leaves. It can grow up to a meter tall, and also thrives in semi-arid grassland to desert-grassland regions.
Binomial Name: Carex stricta
This sedge species is named for its unusual formation of leaf coverings around a dead plant of the same variety. These coverings are called tussocks, and the plant grows up to 1.5 – 2 feet.
Binomial Name: Triticum aestivum
A very common plant growing in grasslands and used extensively for grazing by animals, wheat grass grows up to a meter tall. It is considered a staple diet in many regions of the world.
Binomial Name: Arundo donax
Also known as giant cane, it is mainly found growing in the Asiatic and African grasslands. The height of this grass variety is about more than 5 meters.
Binomial Name: Scirpus atrovirens
Also called deergrass, this plant consists of thin and narrow green- or brown-colored leaves, along with a cluster of spikes. The average height of this floral species is 3 meters.
Binomial Name: Anthoxanthum odoratum
This grass variety grows up to a meter tall, and can also be identified by its typical sweet smell. This plant grows in soil types that have a low pH level. It is found extensively in the European subcontinent.
Binomial Name: Cortaderia selloana
It is mainly used for ornamentation purposes, and it grows up to an average height of 10 feet. The typical name is attributed to its major distribution in the Pampas Grasslands of South America.
The scenic splendor of the grassland biome is enriched due to the presence of unique and beautiful flowers, which mainly thrive in the particular grassland climate. Such plants are called perennial, as they bloom for mostly the entire year.
Binomial Name: Agrimonia eupatoria
This plant reaches heights of up to around 90 cm and is commonly seen in the temperate grasslands of Europe and North America. The seeds of this plant have small spikes that are useful for propagation.
Binomial Name: Balsamorhiza sagittata
This plant is related to the sunflower, and it can grow in various grassland types, like semi-arid, desert, mountainous meadows, etc. Its average height is about 40-50 cm.
Binomial Name: Zephyranthes atamasco
Extensively growing in the Southeastern parts of North America, this lily grows well in soil types that are characterized by high pH levels. The habitat of this plant includes swampy and boggy grasslands.
Binomial Name: Gaillardia aristata
It is related to the sunflower plant family, and it grows up to a height of around 70 cm. This plant is commonly found in the subcontinents of North and South America.
Binomial Name: Liatris spicata
This flowering plant is dominantly seen in the southern parts of the North American continent, especially in Mexico and the Bahamas Islands. The average height of this grassland plant is one meter.
Binomial Name: Iris germanica
This plant is commonly known as Iris, and is found in different types of grasslands, right from mountainous and temperate, to semi-arid and meadows. Rhizomes may also be present in a few varieties.
Binomial Name: Lobelia cardinalis
Distributed across Northern America and Canada, this plant species is perennial and grows up to more than a meter tall in height. It is generally found in swampy grasslands and marshes.
Binomial Name: Fritillaria biflora
This perennial plant grows up to half a meter tall, and the particular name is given due to the appearance of the color of its flowers. It is extensively found in mountainous grassland regions.
Binomial Name: Eupatorium perfoliatum
This plant is spread very extensively across the entire eastern and middle eastern part of the United States and Canada. It grows till a height of 1 meter, and is found in grasslands that have high humidity.
Binomial Name: Dracopis amplexicaulis
The typical cone-shaped structure of the inflorescence of this plant is the reason for its typical name. Its average height is one meter, and it commonly grows in the North American continent.
Binomial Name: Coreopsis gigantea
This plant grows up to an average height of 80 cm, and is mostly found in North as well as South American subcontinents. The fruits of this floral species look like tiny insects.
Binomial Name: Gentianella germanica
Dominantly present in northern Europe especially in the United Kingdom, this plant is quite rare with regards to its occurrence in other parts of our planet. It grows extensively on the Chiltern Hills in England.
Binomial Name: Primula veris
This flowering plant is extensively found in Northern Europe and Asia, and it grows up to 20 cm in height. It thrives well in desertic grasslands, meadows, temperate grasslands, etc.
Binomial Name: Gnaphalium sandwicensium
This plant is commonly found in temperate, mountainous, and subtropical grasslands around our planet. It mainly known as a forage plant for the animals that belong to this biome.
Binomial Name: Euphrasia rostkoviana
This plant is mainly found in high-altitude or mountainous grasslands, where the snowline just meets the tree line. This plant is very useful for treatment of the infection of eyes.
Great Blue Lobelia
Binomial Name: Lobelia siphilitica
This plant is a characteristic of grasslands that have a high moisture content and humidity. This herb is commonly found in the US and central parts of Canada.
Binomial Name: Eutrochium fistulosum
This herb mostly grows in the eastern parts of North America, and it can grow up to 2 meters in height. The leaves show minute serrated edges, and flowers show the presence of whorls.
Binomial Name: Galium verum
This plant is found all across Europe and in some parts of the US and Asia. It is a herb, and it can grow up to an average height of 80-100 cm. It is basically a weed plant.
Binomial Name: Caltha palustris
This herb is perennial in nature, and is mostly present in temperate grassland regions of Europe and Britain. The average height of this plant is 70 cm, and it is mildly poisonous in nature.
Binomial Name: Colchicum autumnale
Commonly found in most European countries, it mainly thrives in temperate grassland areas. These plants are poisonous and may be harmful to those animals who graze on them accidentally.
Binomial Name: Asclepias syriaca
Also called common milkweed, this plant is dominantly seen in the eastern region of the US. It grows till a height of more than 2 meters, and thrives well in areas that receive ample sunlight.
Binomial Name: Silybum marianum
This variety of thistle is found commonly in the European subcontinent and less extensively in other parts of the world. It grows up to an average height of 1.2 – 2 meters.
Binomial Name: Ageratina riparia
This perennial floral species grows up to 60 cm in height, and is poisonous to eat. It is mainly present in the Asiatic regions, and is sometimes called a nuisance, causing weed crop.
Binomial Name: Mimulus lewisii
This herb grows till a height of about 70 cm and is found mainly in North America and Australia. The typical name exists as flowers of some species appear like the face of a monkey.
Binomial Name: Lupinus sericeus
This plant is found commonly in the western parts of the US and also in few areas of British Columbia. It can reach up to half a meter in height and requires ample sunlight for proper growth.
Binomial Name: Urtica dioica
Also called common nettle, this plant is equipped with an amazing defense mechanism consisting of stinging hair. It releases chemicals that are absorbed in the skin, when any animal or human comes in contact with it.
Binomial Name: Helianthus annuus
This is one of the most recognizable plants of the grassland biome, which grows all over the world. The typical shape of its flower gives it the particular name. The average height of this plant is 3 meters.
Binomial Name: Monarda fistulosa
This herb is commonly seen in the Northwestern regions of the US and a few central regions of Canada. It mainly grows up to a height of 2-3 feet, and thrives well in less-rainfall-characterized grasslands.
Binomial Name: Lilium philadelphicum
The average height of this lily plant is about 45 cm, and it is commonly found in the US and Canada. It thrives properly in well-drained soil that also has sufficient quantity of humus.
Binomial Name: Achillea millefolium
This plant is commonly found in the temperate grasslands of USA, Europe, and Asia. It grows up to a meter in height, and was used in ancient times for treatment of injuries.
Binomial Name: Dianella longifolia
This variety of lily is mostly seen in the regions belonging to Australasia like India, Australia, New Zealand, etc. It is characterized by the presence of underground rhizome.
Binomial Name: Viola lactea
This plant is largely confined to humid heathland and grass heath in England. Areas having uncultivated land with sandy soil and scrubby vegetation are favorable for its growth.
Binomial Name: Veronica chamaedrys
This weed plant grows in the northern regions of Europe and Asia and dominates on other plants present in the grasslands. It can reach a height of about 20 cm.
Shrubs, Herbs, and Trees
They are not as abundant as the above two types of vegetation, and can be intermittently seen in the vast plains of grasses and small flowering plants. The trees especially harbor the habitation of numerous organisms.
Binomial Name: Rhododendron
A very common flowering shrub found in grasslands, azalea thrives properly in soil types that have a low pH level. It is found in Europe, Asia, and in North America.
Binomial Name: Myrica gale
This shrub grows in the Asiatic, European, and American subcontinental regions, and is also found in a few areas in the form of trees. The roots of this floral species fix nitrogen.
Binomial Name: Aronia arbutifolia
This plant is found in the grassland areas that experience heavy rainfall and the occurrence of high humidity. It is mainly subdivided into red, black, and purple chokeberry types.
Binomial Name: Robinia pseudoacacia
Dominantly seen in central and mid-eastern parts of USA, the black locust tree is characteristically present in temperate grassland areas. The average height of this tree is about 40 meters.
Binomial Name: Asclepias tuberosa
This weed plant dominantly grows in soil types that have less moisture, but can also grow in well-drained soils. The average height of this floral species is about one meter.
Binomial Name: Rumex acetosa
This species of sorrel is found extensively in grassland regions, especially in northern Europe and Russia, Mediterranean regions, and Asia. Its average height is about half a meter.
Binomial Name: Pseudotsuga menziesii
A common tree present in the mountainous grassland regions of North America and British Columbia, it can grow up to an average height of 80 meters. It is also seen on the Western coast of USA.
Binomial Name: Succisa pratensis
This herb was used for the treatment of scabies, and is mainly seen in the European subcontinent, Britain, and several Asiatic regions. It grows well in soil types that have high moisture levels.
Binomial Name: Knautia arvensis
This plant was used in the treatment of scabies in the ancient times, and it grows well in soil types that may have less water content. The average height of this floral species is about 80 cm.
Binomial Name: Chionanthus virginicus
It is dominantly present in the Eastern parts of United States, and is also known as white fringe tree. This floral species can grow up to a height of about 30 feet.
Binomial Name: Juniperus osteosperma
These tall trees grow till an average height of 30 meters, and are commonly seen in grasslands ranging from the European subcontinent to the Americas, and even in Africa. The Juniperusgenus is divided into more than 60 species.
Binomial Name: Pinus flexilis
This tall and long-living pine species is seen in the high-altitude regions of Canada and USA, and can grow as tall as 20 meters. It can live for at least a thousand years or more.
Binomial Name: Filipendula ulmaria
This plant thrives in Europe and Asiatic regions (especially in the Eastern areas), and grows till a height of about 6 feet. It is mainly used as a herb and for manufacturing medicines.
Binomial Name: Phalaenopsis
This orchid appears like a moth with its open wings, and hence, the typical name. It is mainly seen in the Indian subcontinental grasslands, Australian semi-grassland areas, and in China.
Binomial Name: Diospyros kaki
A very common tree found in grasslands all around the world, persimmon is characterized by the presence of orange- or reddish-orange colored fruits, which look similar to tomatoes.
Binomial Name: Pinus ponderosa
Though this tree is classified as evergreen and coniferous, it is present in a few mountainous grassland regions of North America and Canada. The average height of this tree is about 70 meters.
Binomial Name: Echinacea purpurea
This flowering shrub is commonly present in the grasslands of North America, and grows till an average height of one meter. It can grow in almost any type of soil, whether the moisture levels are low or high.
Binomial Name: Orchis mascula
This orchid species grows up to half a meter in length, and is dominantly seen to inhabit the European grassland regions. In a few types, the leaves may show spotted appearance.
Binomial Name: Anacamptis pyramidalis
This plant grows to a height of half a meter and blooms in the form of a pyramid. It is mainly seen in the European grassland regions. Pollination of flowers is undertaken by butterflies.
Binomial Name: Lychnis flos-cuculi
This herb is mostly seen in the European grassland regions, and it is characterized by the presence of flowers that are not properly arranged with respect to their petals; hence, the typical name.
Binomial Name: Trifolium pratense
This herb thrives in Europe, Asia, and in the African subcontinent, and it is mainly used as a fodder plant in these regions. It grows up to an average height of 50 cm.
Binomial Name: Cistus incanus
It is seen mostly in the Mediterranean region, and North and South American continents. This plant thrives well in areas that receive ample sunlight. The seeds germinate with the help of wildfires.
Binomial Name: Artemisia tridentata
It grows till about 2-3 meters in height. This shrub inhabits the semiarid, mountainous, and shrubland areas of West USA, Mexico, and even in central mountainous regions of North America.
Binomial Name: Rumex acetosella
Also called red sorrel, this perennial plant thrives well in soils having a high pH level, especially in grasslands. It grows up to a height of half a meter and is seen mainly in European regions and Britain.
Binomial Name: Prunella vulgaris
This herb mostly occurs as a weed plant in numerous regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is used in manufacturing medicines and also for treating injuries.
Binomial Name: Cornus amomum
It is dominantly seen in the US, and grows up to a height of about 4 meters. The main regions where it thrives are located near the Eastern Coast and central areas, especially in well-drained soils.
Binomial Name: Ocimum basilicum
A very common herbal grassland plant, basil dominantly grows in Asian regions like the Indian subcontinent. It requires ample sunlight and well-drained soil for efficient growth.
Binomial Name: Acorus calamus
This monocot plant is characterized by a sweet smell, and it is dominantly seen growing in the Asiatic grassland regions. It is used in manufacturing herbal medicines.
Binomial Name: Trifolium repens
This fodder plant is one of the most commonly found shrubs occurring in the grasslands of the American subcontinent and in New Zealand. It generally shows a creeper characteristic.
Binomial Name: Salix alba
A characteristic tree found in temperate grasslands, the willow grows about 80 feet tall. Leaves of this plant are elongated, and the roots penetrate deep beneath the surface.
Grassland Plant Adaptations
The numerous examples of vegetation found in this biome have to adapt to various types of environment. These plants have to survive in the cold as well as dry weather conditions. In some parts of the world, especially in the tropical regions, the grassland regions receive extremely heavy rainfall. In winter, excessive snowfall is quite detrimental for the survival of plants, and hence, there is a great need for certain adaptive measures.
• Almost all the flora absorb the moisture received from precipitation, and reserve it for their growth. The rate of evapotranspiration is quite less in these plants as compared to that of the deciduous temperate trees and shrubs.
• The plants have adapted to excessive heat during summers, and hence, the leaves show less number of stomatal openings. The grasses have adapted by acquiring an upright, narrow, and straight form, which helps to reduce the absorption of heat.
• Forest fires are of immense importance to the plants of this biome, as they help in proper germination of the seeds and further propagation. Also, the burnt vegetation releases useful nutrients back into the soil, which enrich and nourish it, and are absorbed by the young trees.
• Most types of grasses, trees, and even shrubs have adapted to the loose and easily erodible soil, by amazing root adaptations. The roots penetrate deep, thus holding the soil particles together, as well as providing stability to the plants, and aiding them in their growth. These firm roots also show resistance against getting uprooted when animals graze on the fields.
• Most of the adaptive features are seen in temperate grasslands.
Stems: In such wind-dominated regions, the stems and branches of grasses and trees are quite flexible, thus enabling them to bend with the wind currents, and not break off from the main body, whenever wind conditions are strong.
Roots: Also, the roots grow from the basal portions that are present under the soil surface, instead of growing from the tip that arises out of the ground. Due to this, the roots are not affected much during floods, storms, forest fires, grazing activity, etc., and even if they break off, the new ones emerge from the basal portions.
Leaves: The plant leaves are quite thin to reduce loss of water during transpiration.
Flowers: The flowers show attractive and rich colors, which increase the chances of pollination by insects. Some spores are dispersed through pollination only with the help of wind currents.
The presence of grasslands on our planet is extremely crucial for the survival of thousands of plants and animals. Every year, hundreds of acres of these areas are being captured by humans for agricultural, construction-related activity, logging activities, mining, etc. This is putting immense pressure on the already-fragile nature of grassland ecosystems and ultimately, on the survival of the associated flora and fauna. Being the most intelligent species on this planet, we must ensure not to cause wanton damage to such regions, and preserve them at least for the future generations.