What is a prairie?

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Prairie Landscape
Prairies are dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants called forbs. Legumes, nitrogen-fixing plants in the Fabaceae (bean) family, for example, are a common component of prairie vegetation as are members of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family . Prairie plants exhibit a number of adaptations to drought and fire.

Trees are absent or scarce on the prairie. When they do occur, they are limited to areas of broken topography (hillsides and bluffs) and the margins of streams and rivers that traverse them. Timber also occurs in groves; isolated and sometimes extensive ‘islands’ of trees surrounded by prairie. Scattered oak openings or savannas are also a common occurrence within or bordering the prairies of the Midwest.

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Illinois State Museum State of Illinois IDNR Search, Last modified October 21st 2003, 02:53AM.