Distribution and General Characteristics
Historically, tallgrass prairies covered large parts of Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois, and extended into the more eastern states in the Midwest. Tallgrass prairie is made up primarily of grasses and forbs, with occasional shrubs and trees and is further characterized by relatively moist soils. As the name implies, the dominant grasses can grow to over 6 feet tall.
Historic Role of Fire
Tallgrass prairies depend on fire to maintain ecosystem stability and diversity. Before European settlement of these grasslands, fires were frequent, occurring every 1-5 years. If fire was excluded, the tallgrass prairie would vanish, and shrubs, trees and exotic grasses would dominate the ecosystem.