in 2003, the Peterson Prairie plots are symbolically placed at the
prairie point. The prairie point is the place where the Grand Prairie
from the west met the Great Hardwood Forest from the east. The plots
were named in honor of Dr. J.B. Peterson, Agronomy Department Head in
1949, who purchased this farm for agronomic research.
Big Bluestem is the dominant grass species in this tall grass
prairie. Other species include Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Side Oats
Grama, Buffalo-grass, and Switch Grass. Big Bluestem, a perennial
plant, thrives in the eastern prairie because of the abundant moisture
and its tall growing habit. The tall grass prairie cycles annually with
fire and reduced summer rainfall patterns as significant factors in the
eco-system’s long term balance between prairie and woodland.
Many species of wild flowers were reseeded in the Peterson Prairie
Plots with the grass. Over time the eco-system will balance the species
mix. Wildflowers include Black-eyed Susan, Indian Blanket, Partridge
Pea, Coreopsis, Mexican Hat, Coneflower, Lead Plant, and many more. The
adjacent wildflower garden also shows many other common prairie
Many small Bur Oak trees have been planted just east of the prairie
point to symbolize the interface between forest and prairie, since Bur
Oak is one of the rare species of oak that can withstand some prairie
fire. A typical forest, here by the prairie, might have been dominated
by Oak and Hickory species.
The Peterson Prairie Plots also include an ornamental grass display of exotic grass species often used for home landscapes.
Additionally, an agricultural crops garden is planted annually to
demonstrate crops, other than corn and soybeans, which are grown around
Wander the trails in the prairie and view the labeled examples in the
gardens. Access is available dawn to dusk. Please do not remove plant
Related Prairie Web site:
Kansas Wildflower and Grasses
DNR - The Indiana Prairie