Whitman Mission is located on the southern extreme of the Palouse Prairie Region in eastern Washington state. Originally, this prairie was dominated by perennial grasses, principally bluebunch wheatgrass, which flourished over the plains. Intermixed with it were smaller patches of sandberg bluegrass and Idaho fescue. Large native herbivores were generally absent from the Palouse, and because of this the grasses evolved with a low resistance to grazing. Subsequent grazing by domestic livestock and extensive cultivation for wheat are the main reasons why native perennial grasslands are now rare on the Palouse.
Grasses found today at Whitman Mission are a combination of remaining native grasses, grasses planted by park staff to re-create the historical feel of area, invasive grasses, and lawn.
The grasses described on this page are those most commonly seen at the park.
A few comments about these plants and the information provided:
- Occasionally a plant's scientific name is changed. This document uses the USDA Plants database as the source of the most current scientific nomenclature.
- For some of the grasses, a few of the previously used scientific names are provided because some park documents may include the older nomenclature. For a complete list of synonymous names see the USDA Plants database website.
- Except for Cheat grass, which is an aggressive invasive, all of the species described below have been planted in the park as part of the park's revegetation program.
- At times it was necessary to plant introduced grass species as part of the revegetation effort. The introduced species were chosen because of their ability to out compete other less desirable plants. In the grass descriptions the following abbreviations are used:
N = Native
I = Introduced