Minnesota's Native Prairies

An Endangered Habitat

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Did you know Minnesota was once home to 18 million acres of prairie? Today, a little over 1% of native prairie remains, making it one of North America's most endangered habitats. The Minnesota prairie, often referred to as the tallgrass prairie, contains over 500 species of plants. These grasslands vary from vast open fields to scattered plots of vegetation and can be found in a variety of places from the wet meadows to the high bluffs.

Minnesota's tallgrass prairie once covered 18 million acres. Today, most of this land has been converted to farmland.

An urban oasis, Coldwater Spring National Park is located near Highway 62 and Hiawatha Avenue.

Coldwater Spring National Park oak savanna/prairie restoration: 12 acres of prairie and 1 acre of wetland, a thousand trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers.

Why is Minnesota's Prairie Important?

Prairie plants provide a healthy habitat to many different species, such as birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles, and other small wildlife. For hundreds of years, Native plants have helped provide nutrient rich soil for all sorts of agriculture. Minnesota's tallgrass prairie includes a wide variety of diverse plants, each playing a unique role within the ecosystem. Together, they help take in nutrients and water, reduce erosion and runoff and ultimately help the ecosytem thrive.

The preservation and planting of these native prairies and plants can help the overall longevity of Minnesota’s native environment and animals. For this reason, consider supporting the Minnesota ecosystem by including native prairie plants in your residential landscape.

Thomas Lake Native Prairie Park | Eagan Minnesota

Consider Native Minnesota Species for your home landscaping project

The University of Minnesota recommends this list of native plants for landscapes in Minnesota. A few popular options include:

Blackhawk Big Bluestem – A prairie grass that grows 4 to 8 feet tall and thrives in moist/wet soils. Big Bluestem is good for the soil, supports wildlife, and is great for erosion control. This is a good option for shoreline preservation or the middle/base of a rain garden.

Blue Grama – This species likes upland dry conditions and will grow 6 inches tall in sandy dry soils and full sun. Consider Blue Grama as a turf alternative or for strips between sidewalks and streets. It is also commonly used on slopes for erosion control. Blue Grama attracts multiple species of butterflies and songbirds.

Prairie Dropseed ‘Tara’– A fine-textured and short-statured plant that enjoys an upland, sandy soil with full sun. Prairie Dropseed tolerates dry conditions and has very low water needs. This species is great for the top of a berm, a rain garden, or the front of a border. Prairie Dropseed supports endangered butterfly species like the Skipper Butterfly.

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