With towering peaks and beautiful stands of conifers and aspens, Grand Teton National Park tends to draw your attention upward. All the while, below your gaze, tickling your ankles, padding your footsteps, helping cool a hot summer day, are the unsung heroes of the park-the grasses.
Grand Teton National Park is home to over one hundred different species of grasses. Grasses make up one of the most widely distributed plant types in existence. Grasses are present in every community in the park from wetlands, to sagebrush flats, to forests, to the alpine zone. Wherever they grow, grasses are an integral element of the ecological tapestry. Grasses are the chief food source for much of the native wildlife: bison, elk, marmots and many insect species. Other animal species use grasses to supplement their diets. Grasses also provide cover and nesting material. Many small mammals, as well as birds, use grasses to build nests and insulate burrows against the severe climate.
Grasses stabilize soils and help provide a substrate for other plants to grow. The dense root structure of grass holds soil in place reducing erosion. This is essential in an area such as Grand Teton National Park with steep-slopes and high levels of precipitation. When you visit, take time to consider the grasses. View them from afar to appreciate the wonderful colors they add to the landscape. View them from near and marvel at their fine structure. Contemplate the vital role grasses play in one of the most vibrant ecosystems in the world.
Alpine Timothy - Phleum alpinum
Bearded Wheatgrass - Elymos trachycaulus
Idaho Fescue - Festuca idahoensis
Kentucky Bluegrass - Poa pratensis
Pinegrass - Calamagrostis rubescens
Sanberg Bluegrass - Poa secunda
Spike Trisetum - Trisetum spicatum
Ticklegrass - Agrostis scabra
Timber Oatgrass - Danthonia intermedia
Tufted Hairgrass - Deschampsia cespitosa
Cheatgrass - Bromus tectorum
Common Timothy - Phleum pratense
Crested Wheatgrass - Agropyron cristatum
Orchard Grass - Dactylis glomerata
Smooth Brome - Bromus inermis