Western Great Plains Shortgrass Prairie

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Nature Serve ID: CES303.672


This widespread system occurs on various geologic formations.


Often on level to gently rolling uplands.


Within Phase 1, this system occurs on Rough Breaks, Shallow Clay, Very Shallow, and Very Shallow Clay Ecological Sites.

Parent Description

This system is better developed and more widespread to the north and west of Phase 1, and occurs sporadically on the western edge of Phase 1. Buchloe dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) are common dominants. Other species that may be present include Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama), Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama), Bouteloua rigidiseta (Texas grama), Erioneuron pilosum (fluffgrass), Hilaria belangeri (curlymesquite), and Pascopyrum smithii (western wheatgrass). Shrub cover is generally low, but may include species such as Acacia greggii (catclaw), Rhus microphylla (littleleaf sumac), Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac), Dalea formosa (feather dalea), Mahonia trifoliolata (agarito), Juniperus spp. (juniper), and Prosopis glandulosa (mesquite). Forbs such as Calylophus spp. (sundrops), Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot), Krameria lanceolata (trailing ratany), and others are often present. Gutierrezia sarothrae (broom snakeweed) may be present with significant cover, especially on sites with intense and continuous grazing. In this, the southeastern most expression of the system, it tends to occur on sites with soils providing relatively dry conditions such as Shallow Clay, Very Shallow, and Very Shallow Clay Ecological Sites.

Ecological Mapping Systems