• Along the Washita - 1868 by Gene V. Dougherty

    Washita Battlefield

    National Historic Site Oklahoma

Plants

Plants of the Prairie at Washita Battlefield (Top Left: Plains Sunflower, Middle Left: Indian Blankets Bed, Bottom Left: Prickly Pear, Right: Sand Bluestem)

Plants of the Prairie at Washita Battlefield (Top Left: Plains Sunflower, Middle Left: Indian Blankets Bed, Bottom Left: Prickly Pear, Right: Sand Bluestem)

NPS Photo

The most obvious inhabitant of Washita Battlefied is the plant community. The park is fortunate to be located in an ecoregion that straddles both tall and short grass prairie ecosystems. In addition, it is also a meeting ground for arid southwestern species and plants from the eastern deciduus forests. Hence, once can find Great Plains Yucca and Prickly Pear Cactus growing in a very close proximity to American Elm, Eastern Redcedar, and Black Walnut.

The most prominent plant species at the site are the grasses, particularly Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, and Indiangrass. These native bunchgrasses, when growing over large swaths of ground, ripple like ocean waves as afternoon breezes pass through.

Lending color to the grass palatte are numerous wildflowers, which create unexpected splotches of color here and there throughout the landscape. Depending on the season one will be certain to spy Heather Aster, Silver Golden Aster, Indian Blanket, Prairie Sunflower, Ohio Spiderwort, or Silky Prairie Clover. Adding to the color in the fall months, when the Little Bluestem turns a resplendent rust color, are the deep red of the Smooth Sumac and the bright yellow of the eastern cottonwood.

Did You Know?

Doxey Shale

The distant hills north of Washita Battlefield are called the Horseshoe Hills. These hills were formed as a result of erosion of the softer surrounding material about 250 million years ago, leaving the harder Doxey Shale behind.