Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version





This book is the result of a long-felt need by the authors and their students for a comprehensive survey of the numerous studies that have been made on plains grasslands. From southern Texas far into Saskatchewan the mid and short grasses form a magnificent prairie nearly 2,500 miles in length and approximately 400 miles wide. Kinds of communities, their composition, nature, significance and uses are fully described. Such information is of value not only to students, range technicians, and other professional conservationists, but also to ranchers and other land owners-in fact, to anyone interested in the economy of our midwestern grasslands. The damaging effects of drought on forage production in this unstable climate and the restoration of the plant cover are of such great importance that they have been given special attention. Climate, soils, and. the proper use of the forage for its sustained production are described.

A third of a century of study and experimentation in plains grassland by the authors permits accurate description and interpretation. Important studies that have been made on the vegetation since the coming of the white man to the present day are reviewed. Early investigations have been recorded in papers, bulletins and books, many of which are now out of print or difficult of access. Therefore permission was asked and promptly given by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Duke University Press, Ecological Monographs, Ecology, and several other journals to re-use materials originally furnished by the authors. Such sources are carefully cited in the text. Only by such cooperation has this book been made possible.

This great prairie land has been thoroughly examined as to its way of life both above ground and deep into the soil, which it has helped to build and so efficiently protects. Extensive, long-time investigations have elucidated many problems. The scope of the work has been broadened and deepened by the aid of a large number of advanced students who have sought graduate study in this field. To them, many of whom are today leaders in conservation of range management or in teaching a new generation of students the values of ecology in our economy, we are deeply grateful for their interest and cooperation. Two of them are so familiar with the grasslands of Texas and New Mexico, respectively, that each has contributed a chapter to this book.

Both common and scientific names of grasses are according to Hitchcock and Chase (1950) revised Manual of the Grasses of the United States. Other scientific names follow Gleason's New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora (1952) or Harrington's Manual of the Plants of Colorado (1954). Common names are nearly all according to the second edition (1913) of Britton and Brown or the second edition of Standardized Plant Names (1942).

404 pages