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White Sands National Park Grasses

The grass family (Poacea) is represented by 8 tribes consisting of approximately 22 species, including little bluestem, Indian ricegrass and alkali sacaton, probably the most common grasses on the monument.

Many visitors that hike the interdune areas and shrubland outside the dunes are surprised at the extent of grass cover on the monument. Many interdune flats in the marginal dunes have extensive cover of gyp grama and little bluestem, with fairly large areas of alkali sacaton just outside the dune front(see photo at right). The four-winged saltbush flats to the south and east of the dunefront were likely predominately grassland in the 1800's, but a combination of drought and overgrazing may have allowed the hardy saltbush to take over, resulting in the shrubland association prevalent today.

The tribe Stipeae is represented by a single species: Indian ricegrass

The dropseed tribe, Eragrosteae, has eleven species that are found in the monument, while the grama tribe, Chlorideae, is represented by 5 species.

The remaining tribes are each represented by a single species, including the tribe Abundineae, where giant reedgrass has invaded the dune margins in limited areas.

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