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Niobrara National Scenic River Grasses

Several types of grassland plant communities are found in the region. The area provides a botanical transition between the tallgrass prairie of more humid areas to the east, and the dryer shortgrass prairie to the west. Sandhills mixed-grass prairie covers the upland country south of the river, with plant species adapted to the sandy conditions.

Table 1. Common mixed-grass prairie plant and forb species.

Common Name

Scientfic Name

Sand bluestem

Andropogon hallii Little bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium Needleandthread

Stipa comata Junegrass

Koeleria macrantha Prairie sandreed

Calamovilfa longifolia Sand dropseed

Sporobolus asper Blue grama

Bouteloua gracilis Hairy grama

Bouteloua hirsuta Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum Louisiana sagewort

Artemisia ludoviciana Common milkweed

Asclepias syriaca Leadplant

Amorpha canescens Scaly blazing star

Liatris squarrosa Prairie spiderwort

Tradescantia occidentalis Yucca

Yucca glauca Wild rose

Rosa woodsii

Small remnant patches of tallgrass prairie can be found on moist river bottoms. Typical tallgrass prairie species found along the Niobrara River are highlighted in Table 2 below.

Table 2. Common tallgrass prairie plant and forb species.

Common Name

Scientific Name

Big bluestem

Andropogon gerardii


Sorghastrum nutans

Heath aster

Aster ericoides Annual sunflower

Helianthus annuus

Prairie coneflower

Ratibida columnifera

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