With towering peaks and beautiful stands of conifers and aspens, Grand Teton National Park tends to draw your attention upward. All the while, below your gaze, tickling your ankles, padding your footsteps, helping cool a hot summer day, are the unsung heroes of the park--the grasses. Grand Teton National Park is home to over one hundred different species of grasses. Grasses make up one of the most widely distributed plant types in existence. Grasses are present in every biotic community in the park from wetlands, to sagebrush flats, to forests, to the alpine zone.
Wherever they grow, grasses are an integral element of the ecological tapestry. Grasses are the chief food source for much of the native wildlife. Bison, elk, marmots, and many insect species are dependent on grasses for their survival. Other animal species use grasses as a supplement to their diets. Grasses also benefit the animal community by providing cover and nesting material. Many small mammals, as well as birds, use grasses to build nests and insulate burrows against the severe environment. The role of grasses as soil stabilizers is very important. The dense root structure of grasses holds soil in place which reduces erosion. This is essential in an area such as Grand Teton National Park with steep-sloped geologic features and high levels of precipitation. When you visit Grand Teton National Park take time to consider the grasses. View them from afar to appreciate the wonderful colors they add to the landscape. View them from near and marvel at their fine structure.
Contemplate the vital role grasses play in one of the most vibrant ecosystems in the world. Native Species Alpine Timothy - Phleum alpinum Bearded Wheatgrass - Elymos trachycaulus Idaho Fescue - Festuca idahoensis Kentucky Bluegrass - Poa pratensis Pinegrass - Calamagrostis rubescens Sanberg Bluegrass - Poa secunda Spike Trisetum - Trisetum spicatum Ticklegrass - Agrostis scabra Timber Oatgrass - Danthonia intermedia Tufted Hairgrass - Deschampsia cespitosa Non-native Species Cheatgrass - Bromus tectorum Common Timothy - Phleum pratense Crested Wheatgrass - Agropyron cristatum Orchard Grass - Dactylis glomerata Smooth Brome - Bromus inermis