Grasses and grass-like plants play a small, but very important role in the various habitats of the Lakeshore. American beachgrass is an important stabilizing factor along the Lake Michigan beaches and foredunes. The interdunal areas and subsequent dunes are then host to both little bluestem and prairie sandreed – grasses common to the mid-grass prairies of the Midwest. Other native grasses found in the scattered open areas within the forests include switchgrass, big bluestem, Canada wildrye, and bluejoint reedgrass.
The majority of the open fields associated with the historic farmlands are covered in an assortment of introduced grasses ranging from smooth brome to orchard grass. These have become important nesting areas for grassland bird species that would have only used this area on a very limited basis before the land was logged and cleared for agriculture. Various management tools are used to maintain the grasslands in historic areas as open fields, while the majority of the remaining fields are slowly being re-claimed by natural succession of native forest tree species.
The grass-like plants include a host of native sedge and rush species that are found along the waterways, around the lakes, and throughout the bogs and wetlands. Over 60 species of sedges alone have been found. They provide important habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals associated with wetland and riparian areas.