SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia

Table of Contents




Photo by R. E. Rosiere

Hauser, A. Scott 2005. Calamovilfa longifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].




prairie sandreed
prairie sand reed
prairie sand reedgrass
sand reedgrass
big sand grass

The currently accepted name scientific name for prairie sandreed is Calamovilfa longifolia (Hook.) Scribn. (Poaceae) [95,110]. Accepted varieties are [95]:

Calamovilfa longifolia var. longifolia
Calamovilfa longifolia var. magna Scribn. & Merr.

Throughout this review, prairie sandreed will refer to both varieties. When citing literature that distinguishes variety, C. l. var. longifolia and C. l. var. magna are referred to by scientific name.



Calamovilfa longifolia var. magna is listed as threatened in Wisconsin [170,189].


SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia
Prairie sandreed has a contiguous distribution. It occurs from the Northwest Territories east to Ontario and south to New Mexico and Kansas [72,77,85,95,114,124,164,170]. Calamovilfa longifolia var. longifolia occurs from British Columbia east to Ontario and south to New Mexico and Kansas [26,68,164]. Calamovilfa longifolia var. magna occurs along the Great Lakes in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin [163,164,170]. Grass Manual on the Web provides a distributional map of prairie sandreed.

FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES18 Maple-beech-birch
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)


8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K099 Maple-basswood forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K101 Elm-ash forest
K106 Northern hardwoods

1 Jack pine
16 Aspen
18 Paper birch
26 Sugar maple-basswood
39 Black ash-American elm-red maple
42 Bur oak
50 Black locust
63 Cottonwood
69 Sand pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood-willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper

107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
411 Aspen woodland
419 Bittercherry
420 Snowbrush
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass
609 Wheatgrass-grama
610 Wheatgrass
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
612 Sagebrush-grass
613 Fescue grassland
614 Crested wheatgrass
704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass
706 Blue grama-sideoats grama
708 Bluestem-dropseed
709 Bluestem-grama
710 Bluestem prairie
713 Grama-muhly-threeawn
714 Grama-bluestem
715 Grama-buffalo grass
720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)
721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
733 Juniper-oak

Prairie sandreed usually occurs on upland sites in mixed- and tallgrass prairies and within Great Lakes dune communities. Commonly associated species include needle-and-thread (Hesperostipa comata), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), sand bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) [74,126,146,185]. It occurs on dry interior shortgrass plains and prairies of the Great Plains [26,68,164].

Prairie sandreed is recognized as a dominant species in the following vegetation classifications:

CO: Sand hills [50,107,140]
IA: Sioux County [79]
IN: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and State Park [20,38]
IL: Illinois Beach State Park [20]
     Sand Prairie Scrub Oak Nature Preserve [4,8]
KS: Sand prairies [108]
MB: Red River Valley [139]
MN: Allison Savanna [59]
        Red River Valley [139]
       Western grassland prairies [55]
MT: Southeastern and central sandy plains and rangelands [2,14,105]
ND: Nelson County [47]
        Little Missouri Badlands [48]
        Western North Dakota grasslands [74,87,177,185]
        Red River Valley [139]
NE: Sandhill prairies [13,18,21,31,39,42,57,63,81,96,98,149,159,182]
SD: Sandhill prairies [28,67,83,166]
       Cottonwood Range Field Station [34]
WI: Kohler-Andrae State Park [20]
       Point Beach State Forest [173]
AB: Camp Wainwright Military Reserve [4]
       Southern coulees near Lethbridge [40]
       Sandhill prairies [112]
SK: Sandhill prairies in the south [90,112]

Descriptions of plant communities where prairie sandreed is important are provided below.

Alberta: Prairie sandreed is a dominant species with skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata) and western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) on south-facing coulees bordering the Oldman River at Lethbridge [40]. In the Alberta Aspen Parkland located in the southeast, prairie sandreed grows in a complex vegetation mosaic of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) groves and steppes dominated by rough fescue (Festuca altaica), porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea), western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), and silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata) [4].

Saskatchewan: Prairie sandreed occurs as a minor species on the blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)-needle-and-thread-western wheatgrass mixed- grass prairie of southwestern Saskatchewan [89]. On the Dundurn and Great Sand Hills (GSH) of southern Saskatchewan, prairie sandreed was a dominant species in all 5 physiographic categories studied. Prairie sandreed's frequency and presence (regularity of occurrence among 101 vegetational stands) are detailed below [90]:


Active complexes

Stabilized blowouts at Dundurn

Stabilized dunes

Dune depressions at Dundurn

Sand flats in GSH

Dundurn GSH Dundurn GSH
Frequency (%) 37 28 27 42 62 37 19
Presence (%)



91 57 52 66 40

Manitoba: Prairie sandreed and needle-and-thread are dominant species on dry sites in the northern Red River Valley in southern Manitoba [139].

Illinois: Within the Illinois Beach State Park along the shore of Lake Michigan, prairie sandreed and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) are dominant species. Common forbs associated with prairie sandreed and little bluestem include sagewort wormwood (A. campestris) and gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) [20]. In the 1460-acre (590-ha) Sand Prairie Scrub Oak Nature Preserve in west-central Illinois, prairie sandreed dominates the sand prairies along with sandlove grass (Eragrostis trichoides) and little bluestem. Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) trees, the forb species Virginia tephrosia (Tephrosia virginiana), bluejacket (Tradescantia ohiensis), western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya), and eastern prickly-pear (Opuntia humifusa) cactus are common associates [5,8]. Prairie sandreed is a dominant grass in Mason County, located in west-central Illinois near the Illinois River. The county is located on dry, deep Pleistocene sand deposits. Other important species in Mason County include little bluestem, eastern prickly-pear cactus, and western ragweed [36].

Minnesota: Prairie sandreed and needle-and-thread also dominate on dry sites in the southern Red River Valley [139]. In blue grama-porcupine grass communities on sandy, upland sites of western Minnesota tallgrass prairies, prairie sandreed, prairie Junegrass, and sun sedge (Carex heliophila) are considered important graminoids [55]. Prairie sandreed occurs but is not dominant in open, sandy spaces in bur oak-northern pin oak (Quercus macrocarpa-Q. ellipsoidalis)/sand bluestem savannas in east-central Minnesota [161,162,183,184]

Wisconsin: Prairie sandreed was the dominant grass species within the Kohler-Andrae State Park located on the shore of Lake Michigan, showing 20% coverage. Associated shrub species sandcherry (Prunus pumila) and creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) accounted for <10% coverage [20]. Prairie sandreed is widely distributed and dominant in the sand dune complex in Point Beach State Forest near Two Rivers. It occurs prominently in foredune, interdune trough, front ridge, blowout, back ridge, and slough habitats [173].

Indiana: Within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan, prairie sandreed and little bluestem are dominant species. Common forb associates include sagewort wormwood and gray goldenrod [20]. Near the border of Illinois, prairie sandreed occurs in open spaces on Lake Michigan heaths within the bearberry-common juniper (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi-J. communis)-creeping juniper association. Prairie sandreed becomes a dominant species when migrating dunes encroach on this association and the evergreen vegetation is destroyed [38].

North Dakota: Prairie sandreed is classified as the dominant grass in the sandgrass communities of western North Dakota, with 40% to 84% total coverage [74,87,186]. Important secondary species in the sandgrass community include threadleaf sedge (Carex filifolia), needleleaf sedge  (C. eleocharis), yellow sedge (C. pennsylvanica), blue grama, needle-and-thread, and prairie Junegrass. Prairie sandreed presence in the sand prairies of southeastern North Dakota is listed at 80.0% [177]. Within eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) woodlands on the floodplain of the Little Missouri River, Hopkins and others [87] list prairie sandreed as a dominant groundlayer species along with Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis). Prairie sandreed and needle-and-thread codominate on dry sites in the Red River Valley [139].

South Dakota: In dune habitats in south-central South Dakota, prairie sandreed occurs with blowout grass (Redfieldis flexuosa), sandhill muhly (Muhlenbergia pungens), sand bluestem, and sand dropseed [166]. In the western wheatgrass-needle-and-thread community of northwestern South Dakota, associated midgrasses include prairie sandreed, little bluestem, green needlegrass (Nassella viridula), and sandhill muhly [67].

Nebraska: The Nebraska Sandhills mixed-grass prairie in the northwestern corner of the state is dominated by native perennial grasses. The flora is a mix of tall-, mid-, and shortgrass prairie species. Prairie sandreed and little bluestem make up 60% of the upland plant community of the Nebraska sandhills [81].  Three major plant communities are recognized in the Nebraska sandhills mixed prairie: 1) the upper dune slopes and ridges are characterized by a hairy grama (Bouteloua hirsuta)-prairie sandreed-little bluestem community [42,57]; 2) the mid-slopes and rolling dunes support a blue grama-prairie sandreed-hairy grama community; and 3) the flat bottoms support a prairie sandreed-blue grama-needle-and-thread community [13,63]. Prairie sandreed and sand bluestem tend to occur on south-facing slopes in the eastern Nebraska sandhills [149]. A Nebraska sandhills prairie study on the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge found prairie sandreed and needle-and-thread grass were the 2 dominant species, with 18.0% and 19.0% coverage, respectively [21]. Nebraska sandhills studies by Frolik and Shepherd [63] and Keeler and others [96] found prairie sandreed coverage at 21.2% and 22.0%, respectively.

In a vegetative analysis of 3 Nebraska sandhills sites (Dry Valley, Choppy Hills, and Rolling Sands), the prairie sandreed union is described as the most important flora segment within all 3 sites. The important components of the prairie sandreed union include sand bluestem, big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii), little bluestem, sand lovegrass, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), blowout grass, and sandhill muhly. The constancy, frequency, and composition percentages of prairie sandreed on the 3 sites are presented below [22,31]:

Site Constancy Frequency Composition
Dry Valley 100 62.2 21.3
Choppy Hills 100 56.5 23.8
Rolling Sands 100 71.5 28.1

In ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) woodlands of northwestern Nebraska, prairie sandreed total coverage was 2.2% in scattered stands and 0.7% in open stands [168,181].

Colorado: The Pawnee National Grassland in the north-central part of the state has vast areas of sandy soils where prairie sandreed and sand sage (Artemisia filifolia) are prevalent [78]. Prairie sandreed, needle-and-thread, and sand bluestem are dominant species on sandhill prairies near Roggen [140].

Montana: Prairie sandreed is found on the sandy plains grasslands growing with western wheatgrass, blue grama, prairie Junegrass, needle-and-thread, threadleaf sedge, and needleleaf sedge [1,2,86]. It is commonly found on big sagebrush/buffalo grass (A. tridentata/Buchloe dactyloides) rangeland in southeastern Montana [2]. Within a study area of approximately 268 miles (431 km), located on the rolling plains of central Montana, prairie sandreed was a dominant grass within the shale-slope shrub vegetation type, which constituted 1.6% of the area. Dominant shrubs included big sagebrush, rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), and prairie rose (Rosa arkansana). Along with prairie sandreed, western wheatgrass and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) were characteristic grasses [14].


SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia 
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g., [19,52,52,68,72,77,85,110,114,124,163,164,174,180]).

Prairie sandreed is a warm season, sod-forming, native perennial grass [13,61,73,76,92,159]. At maturity, prairie sandreed is 2 to 6 feet (0.6-2 m) tall [127,167,179] and forms colonies 3 to 26 feet (1-8 m) in diameter [1,116]. The culms are 20 to 72 inches (50-182 cm) tall [127,180]. The best developed culms have 10 to 12 fibrous leaves with blades 15 to 30 inches (38-76 cm) long and 4 to 10 mm wide. Leaves readily roll when moisture is not available. Prairie sandreed can withstand long periods of drought and respond quickly to moisture [167,179]. The panicle of prairie sandreed is generally 5.9 to 13.8 inches (15-35 cm) long. Panicle length of Calamovilfa longifolia var. longifolia and C. l. var. magna usually averages 21.8 inches (55.5 cm) and 30.5 inches (77.5 cm), respectively [68,77,163,164,174,180].  Fruits are awnless caryopses [117,160] and have a basal ring of white hairs about half their length [125]. The seed weight of prairie sandreed is 0.71 to 3.17 mg [102,194], seed length is 2.6 to 4.3 mm, seed width is 0.7 to 1.3 mm, and seed area is 2.0 to 5.3 mm [193,194].

Prairie sandreed develops 1 to 5 tough, wiry rhizomes 2 to 3 mm in diameter [37] per aerial culm. Rhizome length is 3 to 11 inches (8-28 cm) [167,179]. Rhizomes are covered by long scale leaves and have sharply pointed bud scales [37]. Field studies in Nebraska showed the depth of prairie sandreed rhizomes ranged from 1.5 to 8 inches (3.8-20 cm). In greenhouse studies, the depth of prairie sandreed rhizomes in garden loam ranged from 5 to 11 inches (13-28 cm), while rhizomes in garden sand ranged from 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm). Prairie sandreed in garden loam produced 134 feet (40.8 m) of rhizomes per m, while prairie sandreed in garden sand produced 101 feet (30.8 m) of rhizomes per m. A few roots began developing shortly after new rhizomes began to grow [127].

Prairie sandreed also produces elongated rhizomes that may emerge more than 12 inches (30 cm) from parent rhizomes [25,42]. Aerial shoots of prairie sandreed develop almost exclusively from buds at the distal end of rhizomes, which are unbranched and relatively long and deep compared to rhizomatous plant species commonly found in the same communities [25,81,144].

The root depth of prairie sandreed varies greatly, ranging from 4.5 to 10 feet (1.4-3 m) [179]. Rhizomes excavated on August 18 from the Nebraska sandhills had an average of 13 roots. Roots measured 4 feet (1 m) long and 2 to 3 mm in diameter except at the root ends, where the starch-laden root tips may reach 10 mm in diameter [167,179]. At a study site in southwestern Saskatchewan, prairie sandreed roots reached a maximum depth of 4.5 to 5.9 feet (1.4-1.8 m) below the soil surface, with lateral branches occurring throughout the length of the roots and increasing in length (up to 6 inches (15 cm)) with increasing depth [37].


Prairie sandreed reproduces via seeds and rhizomes [25,42,135,160,194,195]. Prairie sandreed reproduction is mostly vegetative, emanating from bud crowns formed at the distal end of rhizomes [25,144,167].

Breeding system: No information is available on this topic.

Pollination: Prairie sandreed is wind pollinated [71,84,171]. To date (2005), information on prairie sandreed's ability to self pollinate is lacking.

Seed production: Prairie sandreed develops seed in late summer or early fall [135]. Seed formation generally only occurs in prairie sandreed plants that grow in disturbed areas where moisture is abundant [167]. Prairie sandreed seeds have relatively small embryos at the apical end and a large amount of endosperm at the distal end [194]. Fire promotes seed production. In quaking aspen parklands of east-central Alberta, 24.0% of prairie sandreed plants exhibited seedheads on unburned plots, while 40.0% of plants on burned plots had seedheads [3,4].

Seed dispersal: Wind is the primary dispersal mechanism for prairie sandreed seeds. Researchers on the windy dunes of Lake Huron observed disarticulated prairie sandreed seeds carried downwind in eddies of air and landing in sand depressions made by the feet of animals and humans, on the lee of sand dunes, and against obstructions [115].

Seed banking: Prairie sandreed utilizes a seed bank. The table below details the depletion rate (mean % s x) of prairie sandreed seeds 285 days after burial in the field along the east-shore of Lake Michigan at different seed bank levels [195]:

Cause of depletion

Burial depth (cm)

5 10 15 20 25
Germination 90.0a 3.49 81.0a 7.62 21.75b 5.50 1.25c 0.95 0.25c 0.25
Death 10.0a 3.49 9.25a 1.13 53.25a 17.6 73.0a 6.57 80.5a 16.5
Means in the same row followed by different lowercase letters are significantly different (p<0.05).

At the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory near Whitman, Nebraska, 20 soil samples were taken at depths of 0 to 2 inches (0-5 cm) and 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm). While prairie sandreed was an important contributor to aboveground plant composition (11.0%), seeds of the plant had a very low occurrence or were absent in the seed bank altogether [134].

Seed dormancy: The seeds of prairie sandreed are generally dormant at dispersal. A study by Zhang and Maun [195] along the east shore of Lake Michigan found that prairie sandreed seeds buried in sand remain viable for 3 to 4 years. Only a small portion of seeds in this study were released from dormancy under natural conditions after 167 days of burial. After 283 and 370 days of burial, the seeds of prairie sandreed entered secondary dormancy, and while they were still viable they remained ungerminated even under favorable conditions in a greenhouse [195].

Germination: The stratification of prairie sandreed seeds is required for successful germination. In a study of plant succession in the Sandhills of southeastern North Dakota, Burgess [28] concluded that prairie sandreed needs "cold" temperatures and stratification for "good" germination percentages. To test germination rates, 90 prairie sandreed seeds were planted in a laboratory environment. The seeds were germinated in 3.9 inch (10 cm) petri plates lined with 3 sheets of filter paper moistened with 10 ml of distilled water and placed in dark germination boxes with a controlled temperature of 75 F (24 C) for 146 and 152 hours, respectively. The results are presented in the table below [102]:

Duration (hrs.) # of seeds Mean seed weight
Germination rate
Mean root length
Mean shoot length
146 30 2.2 90 1.5 1.9
157 60 2.2 85 1.3 1.8

Another study from the Nebraska sandhills demonstrated the positive effect of stratification on prairie sandreed seed. The seeds from prairie sandreed collected from sandhills near Valentine, Nebraska, were tested for viability. One batch of seeds was buried in 6 inches of moist sand to replicate "winter temperatures." A second batch was dry stored and kept in a darkened room at "warm temperatures." Each month from December to March, seed germination rate at 70 F (21 C) was observed at 4-day intervals. The following table shows the positive effects of "winterization" [165]:

Beginning date
of germination

% germination at end of 4-day intervals

Period of "winterization" (months)

4th day 8th day 12th day 16th day 20th day
Dry-stored 11/27 0 0 0.6 2.0 0 0
12/21 0 0 0 1.0 2.3 0
1/21 0 2.5 4.7 17.3 17.6 0
2/22 0 3.5 1.0 0.5 0 0
3/22 0 0 0.5 0 0 0
Winterized 12/21 0.6 7.3 3.0 1.3 0 1
1/21 35.0 15.0 8.0 14.0 3.0 2
2/22 61.0 21.0 0.5 0.5 1.0 3
3/22 86.0 0 0 0 0 4

In revegetation trials performed at Fort Union Basin in Montana, Eddleman [56] found optimum germination of old (10 months) prairie sandreed seeds occurred at a temperature range of 59 F to 95 F (15 C-35 C). The best germination rates were between 86 F and 95 F (30 C-35 C), and 0% germination was attained at 39 F (4 C). Fulbright and others [64] procured prairie sandreed seeds from a field in Colorado via a combine and scarified them with sand prior to germination trials. They obtained a germination rate of 75% with alternating laboratory temperatures of 68 F (20 C) for 16 hours and 86 F (30 C) for 8 hours [64].

Seedling establishment/growth: Seedling vigor of prairie sandreed is considered only "fair" [126]. Prairie sandreed establishment optimally occurs with seeds buried at depths of 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) [118,195]. In laboratory trials measuring growth of emergents 146 and 157 hours after germination, prairie sandreed emergents attained root lengths of 0.6 and 0.5 inch (1.5 and 1.3 cm), and shoot lengths of 0.74 and 0.70 inch (1.9 and 1.8 cm), respectively [102]. In dune communities along the shores of Lake Huron, high soil temperatures, desiccation, burial or exposure, and biotic agents were the primary causes of prairie sandreed seedling mortality. Successful seedling establishment seems most dependent on soil moisture levels. Prairie sandreed's seedling survival rate was 50% in Lake Huron dune communities when the top 1.9 inches (5 cm) of soil contained about 5.0% moisture in May, with the rate of survival declining to 2.5% in August when soil moisture levels were 1.0% or less [115].

Asexual regeneration: Prairie sandreed reproduces asexually from rhizomes. Prairie sandreed utilizes a bimodal recruitment pattern, with flushes of new shoots emerging during the spring and fall. However, shoots produced in the fall are small, make a minor contribution to biomass production, and a majority of them do not survive over winter [25,81].

Prairie sandreed grows in a wide range of soils, from the coarsest dune sand to very fine sandy loams. It grows best on south-facing slopes of dunes and the broad, dry plains grasslands and prairies east of the Rocky Mountains [52,72,73,85,124,160,167]. Prairie sandreed is often dominant in the sandhills prairie of the Great Plains [72]. Calamovilfa longifolia var. magna is commonly found on unstable to semistable dunes along the shores of lakes Michigan and Huron [60,68,163,164], whereas Calamovilfa longifolia var. longifolia occurs in many dry prairies on the interior plains of Canada and the United States [115,163,164]. Prairie sandreed is intolerant of high water tables and early spring flooding [75,157,160].

The following table describes the frequency of occurrence of prairie sandreed by topographical position at the Barta Brothers Ranch, eastern Nebraska [149]:

Topographic Position

Interdune (%) Dune top (%) North-facing slope (%) South-facing slope (%)
9.6 20.9 13.0 23.0

Soils: Prairie sandreed is most abundant in sand and sandy soils in upland range sites [1,6,13,19,47,60,68,78,85,106,110,114,124,157,160,178,180,188], although it may be locally abundant in deep, medium-textured loess or clay soils [1,3,4,24].

In a study of plant-soil water relationships in a sandhills mixed prairie of southwestern Nebraska, prairie sandreed exhibited significantly (p<0.05) greater water stress on fine-textured soils than on coarse-textured sand dunes. While maximum available water was significantly (p<0.05) higher in fine-textured soils than in sand dunes in late April, by early to mid-summer moisture was completely exhausted in the fine soils profile. Moisture depletion did not occur until late summer in the sand dunes where prairie sandreed thrives. As a deep-rooted C4 grass, prairie sandreed utilizes stored underground water found 24 to 31 inches (60-80 cm) below ground surface [13].

Climate: The natural habitat of prairie sandreed is normally one of moderate precipitation, cold winters, and hot summers [13,17]. Prairie sandreed occurs across a wide range of precipitation zones, with optimal growth in the 16- to 20-inch (410-510 mm) mean annual precipitation zone [75,157,178]. In central Montana, prairie sandreed occurs in areas receiving only 12.4 inches (315 mm) of mean annual rainfall [14,23]. In the Nebraska sandhills, mean annual precipitation is 24 inches (610 mm) [145]. While precipitation in the Nebraska sandhills exceeds prairie sandreed's optimal range, the loose, sandy soils compensate by allowing for rapid internal drainage of water [13]. Prairie sandreed can survive through extremely cold winters and hot summers. In the Nebraska sandhills, temperatures can range from -40 F (-40 C) in the winter to 109 F (43 C) in the summer [145]. At Glasgow, Montana, temperature extremes have been recorded at 59 F (51 C) and 117 F (47 C) [23].

Elevation: Prairie sandreed is most common from about 2,000 feet (600 m) or lower in the Great Plains up to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in Rocky Mountain river valleys and intermountain desert plains [157]. The elevational ranges for prairie sandreed are presented in the table below:

State/Province Elevation
Colorado 3,500 to 7,000 feet (1,100-2,000 m) [77,78]
Michigan 580 to 740 feet (180-230 m) [111]
Montana 2,000 to 3,600 feet (600-1,100 m) [1,2,23]
Nebraska 3,640 to 4,650 feet (1,110-1,420 m) [13,17,39]
New Mexico 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,200-1,800 m) [114]
South Dakota 2,000 to 3,000 feet (600-900 m) [67]
Wyoming 6,000 to 6,700 feet (1,800-2,000 m) [129]
Alberta 2,810 to 4,810 feet (860-1,470 m) [3,4,24]
British Columbia 2,600 to 3,500 feet (800-1,100 m) [120]
Manitoba 900 to 1,110 feet (300-340 m) [121]
Saskatchewan 1,810 to 4,810 feet (550-1,470 m)  [24,89]

Prairie sandreed occurs in all stages of grassland succession and is intolerant of shade at all phases of growth [160,178]. It occurs in mid- to late-seral plant communities on uplands sites on the sandhills and on many sandy sites [144]. King and others [98] list prairie sandreed as a dominant late-seral species in the Nebraska sandhills. Prairie sandreed is also described as a late-seral species on sandy Montana rangelands [105,146], within the mixed-grass prairies of the Little Missouri National Grasslands of western North Dakota [87], and as an advanced seral species in dune habitats in south-central South Dakota [165].

In a study of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin sand dune communities along the shores of Lake Michigan, Bowles and others [20] describe prairie sandreed as an advanced, mid/late, and early successional species. Frequency of prairie sandreed in early successional communities ranged from 0% to 40%. Frequency was higher in mid- to late successional communities, ranging from 55% to 100%. For communities in advanced succession, prairie sandreed frequency was 28% to 85% [20].

In the Badlands of western North Dakota, Judd [94] observed prairie sandreed in "1st grass" and "climax" successional stages on scoria (burned lignite) buttes. In a study of plant succession in the sandhills of southeastern North Dakota, Burgess [28] found sandhills in the late stages of succession are characterized by prairie sandreed, big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii), and Kentucky bluegrass. The following table describes prairie sandreed's frequency and cover in pioneer, transitional, and "climax" areas of the sandhill prairie study area [28]:

  Pioneer Transitional "Climax"
Frequency (%) 11.8 26.9 23.5
Cover (%) 0.24 0.65 4.47

Prairie sandreed begins development in late April or early May, with rapid growth between mid-May and mid-June [81,167]. Prairie sandreed develops new rhizomes in May or June [37,167,179]. At the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory, from 65% to 85% of aerial prairie sandreed shoots emerged by the end of May [143]. Flowering generally occurs from July to September [72,114,124,179]. Prairie sandreed flowering has been observed in Montana from June to August and in Wyoming from August to September [37,163]. Prairie sandreed continues to grow through the summer. It shows little growth in the fall but remains green until frost [160].

The phenological development of prairie sandreed at the Cottonwood Range Field Station in southwestern South Dakota is described below [34]:

Date Phenological stage
17 June Early vegetative
28 June Vegetative
17 July Developing seed
16 August Seed ripe
13 September Shattering

The table below describes the phenological stages of 2 prairie sandreed cultivars. The values in the table represent the number of days after 15 June that cultivars took to reach a phenological stage [131]:

Phenological stage

'ND-95' 'Goshen'
1st emergence of inflorescence,
10 culms or more
30 29
1st anthesis, 10 culms or more 50 50
50% emergence of the inflorescence 54 54
50% anthesis 57 57
1st seed mature 115 115
50% seed maturity 121 121


SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia
Fire adaptations: Prairie sandreed is fire tolerant when dormant [157,178]. It establishes after fire through seed and/or lateral spread by rhizomes. Prairie sandreed fruit lacks an awn; therefore, initial seed dispersal onto burned sites is effected primarily by wind.

Fire regimes: Prairie sandreed is one of the most dominant and important grasses in the Nebraska sandhills tallgrass prairie. There is little recorded history on the frequency of fire in presettlement times in the sandhills, but fires were likely common, occurring every 1 to 10 years [133,154]. Since the 1900s, lightning-caused fires are well reported and occur often, yet are quickly suppressed [22]. Fire played a beneficial role in preserving the tallgrass prairies of the Nebraska sandhills. The suppression of fire has led to an increase in nonnative species. Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome (Bromus inermis) have become principal invaders across the sandhills due to fire exclusion [154].

Fire also played an important role in Great Plains mixed-grass prairies, where prairie sandreed occurs. The historically large tracts of continuous mixed-grass prairie, which occur in hot, dry areas, accumulated much fine fuel and were susceptible to frequent lightning fires. Early records kept by explorers, trappers, and settlers noted a high occurrence of fires, both natural and anthropogenic, with frequent low-severity fires occurring at intervals of 5 to 10 years [45,133,190]. Since the early 1900s, fire has been excluded and nonnative species such as Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus), smooth brome, Kentucky bluegrass, crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum), and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) have taken a strong hold in the area [45].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where prairie sandreed is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
maple-beech-birch Acer-Fagus-Betula spp. >1,000 [175]
bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [103,133]
Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium-Calamovilfa longifolia 1-10 [133,154]
bluestem-Sacahuista prairie Andropogon littoralis-Spartina spartinae <10 [133]
silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [82,137,190]
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [133]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. <35 [133,190]
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii <35 [133,147,190]
blue grama-buffalo grass Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides <35 [133,190]
blue grama-tobosa prairie Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis mutica <35 to <100
juniper-oak savanna Juniperus ashei-Quercus virginiana <35
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum <35 [133]
wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii <5-47+ [133,137,190]
jack pine Pinus banksiana <35 to 200 [53]
interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [9,11,109]
red-white-jack pine* Pinus resinosa-P. strobus-P. banksiana 10-300 [53,80]
galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea <35 to <100
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides <35 to 200 [133]
aspen-birch Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera 35-200 [53,175]
northern pin oak Quercus ellipsoidalis <35
bur oak Quercus macrocarpa <10 [175]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [133]
elm-ash-cottonwood Ulmus-Fraxinus-Populus spp. <35 to 200 [53,175]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)


SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia
Prairie sandreed is likely top-killed by fire, with rhizomes protected by insulating soil.

No additional information is available on this topic.

Prairie sandreed recovers from burning by rhizomatous spread and/or establishing from seed. Research findings on how fire affects prairie sandreed frequency and coverage are mixed. Prairie sandreed coverage has been found to increase [3,4,21,22,43,99,100,126,183], decrease [10,21,49,101,191], and remain unchanged [191] following fire. Prairie sandreed cover and biomass production tend to increase with spring burning [21,22] and decrease or remain the same with summer and fall burning [49,126].  In quaking aspen parklands of east-central Alberta, an increase in seedhead production and a decrease in blade length were observed in prairie sandreed plants on plots burned annually in early spring for 25 years. It is unknown if fire increased prairie sandreed seed reproduction on the plots, but the removal of litter buildup exposed the mineral soil, creating a more favorable seedbed [3,4].

In the sandhills prairie of Nebraska, Bragg [22] found prairie sandreed tended to increase with burning, but that the plant's initial response to fire was varied. At the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the western portion of the Sandhills Prairie, prairie sandreed was sampled in August 1976, 2 years after a lightning fire. Prairie sandreed's response to fire varied with topographic position. On hilltops and north-facing slopes prairie sandreed's coverage declined by 8.0% compared to prefire levels, but on south-facing slopes prairie sandreed increased 11.0% compared to prefire levels [21]. Given that prairie sandreed prefers south-facing slopes and broad, dry valleys [52,72,73,85,124,160,167], prairie sandreed's postfire decrease in coverage on hilltops and north-facing slopes in Nebraska and North Dakota was likely affected by topographic location. Following prescribed spring burning in western North Dakota, prairie sandreed numbers at postfire month 2.5 were lower on burned sites compared to unburned sites. Prairie sandreed occurred on 2 study sites, Dedication Hill and North Rim.  At each location, forty 0.25 m plots were established in burned and unburned areas. The average number of prairie sandreed plants per plot is presented below [10,49,101]:

  Dedication Hill North Rim
Unburned 70 25
Burned 22 17

Studies in Alberta, Illinois, Minnesota, and North Dakota found a postfire increase in prairie sandreed over prefire levels. In quaking aspen parkland of east-central Alberta, approximately 119 miles (192 km) southeast of Edmonton, annual low-severity burning in early April over the course of 25 years lead to a substantial increase in prairie sandreed cover, a decrease in blade length, and an increase in seedhead production compared to prairie sandreed on unburned sites. On unburned plots, prairie sandreed constituted 0.7% of plant species composition, while on burned plots it increased to 41.0%. On the burned plots, prairie sandreed predominantly replaced western snowberry, rough fescue, and porcupine grass. The average blade length for prairie sandreed on unburned plots was 11.4 inches (29 cm), compared to 9.4 inches (24 cm) on burned plots. The percentage presence of prairie sandreed plants exhibiting seedheads increased from 24.0% on unburned plots to 40.0% on burned plots [3,4].

A bur oak-northern pin oak community in east-central Minnesota has been burned under prescription annually since 1965, except in 1970 and 1975 due to unsuitable burning conditions. On a 27-acre (11-ha) burned plot, prairie sandreed's frequency was 4.5%, while on an unburned 25-acre (10-ha) plot it was 0%. At the Woodworth Station Research Facility in western North Dakota, Kirsch [99,100] found prairie sandreed frequency increased over 100% between May 1970 and May 1977 on annually burned plots compared to unburned plots [183].

The Nature Conservancy owns a 2-section tract of land (1,280 acre (518 ha)) within a sandhills grassland community in Arthur County, Nebraska.  The site sustained a lightning-caused fire in October 1981, which burned approximately 2 acres (1 ha) of upland grassland.  Prairie sandreed biomass on burned and unburned sites, presented in the table below, showed an increased rate of growth on the burned site in the early summer relative to the unburned site. By mid-summer prairie sandreed growth slowed, so that by August the burned and unburned sites had equal amounts of the grass [126]:

  June July August October
Burned area phytomass (g/m) 9.8 26.6 22.9 25.0
Unburned area phytomass (g/m) 8.2 16.0 23.5 24.8

Since prairie sandreed reestablishes quickly after fire [3,4,99,100,183], prescribed fire can be used as a management tool to promote its growth. Fire should be used with caution, however. While some research suggests that fire increases prairie sandreed coverage and seedhead production, it may be adversely affected in certain topographical areas. Fire has played an important historical role in mixed-grass and tallgrass prairies where prairie sandreed occurs (see Fire Ecology). However, since the early 1900s, fire has been actively excluded in prairies, leading to invasion by nonnative species such as Canada thistle [45]. Managers should be careful using fire as a management tool where Canada thistle exists, because it may expand after disturbances such as fire and severely reduce native plant coverage [15,119,132,150].

Gartner [66] warns that prescribed burning in the Nebraska Sandhills could completely remove vegetation and make the sandy soils highly susceptible to wind erosion. However, prairie sandreed is very effective at growing on denuded sands and acting as a sand-binder (see Value for Rehabilitation of Disturbed Sites). Presently, most fire ecologists would disagree with Gartner's assessment [66].


SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia
Livestock: Prairie sandreed is a stable and high producer of forage, making it one of the most important forage grasses in the sandhills prairies. It is particularly good winter forage [19,30,63,105,158]. While prairie sandreed is valued as "inferior" to "fair" forage during the growing season, it cures well and provides an important source of winter feed for cattle, horses, and domestic sheep [19,27,63,63,85,105,160]. A study of food habits of domestic sheep on southeastern Montana sagebrush-grass rangeland found prairie sandreed constituted on average 40% of their summer diet. The percent of prairie sandreed consumed by domestic sheep during the summer of 1979 is presented below [2]:

June July August
22.0% 47.0% 51.0%

Wildlife: There is very little research on the importance of prairie sandreed to wildlife. California quail of eastern Washington consume the seeds [41]. Hardy [75] describes the grazing value of prairie sandreed in Alberta as poor for mule deer and game birds, but fair for small mammals. Elsewhere, prairie sandreed has been broadly listed as fair forage for wildlife, with more importance in the winter [63,160].

Prairie sandreed provides a source of food for plains pocket gophers. In an eastern Colorado study, prairie sandreed (leaves, stems, and roots) constituted 4.6% composition and 17.7% occurrence in 298 plains pocket gopher stomachs. In May, June, and July prairie sandreed made up roughly 10% of the plains pocket gopher diet, with a yearly average of 4.4%. Monthly utilization of prairie sandreed by plains pocket gophers is presented below [128]:

% composition of diet
Feb. Mar. April May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
--- 5.2 --- 10.2 7.1 11.0 0.1 5.0 --- --- ---

Palatability/nutritional value: Prairie sandreed is a coarse, stemmy, and harsh grass of low average palatability [75,88,125]. Its palatability decreases as prairie sandreed matures [34,130]. Palatability is described as fair from early spring through late spring, poor in summer and fall, and poor to fair in winter [91]. While cattle, horses, and domestic sheep readily consume prairie sandreed, livestock commonly select sand bluestem, needle-and-thread, blue grama, and hairy grama over prairie sandreed [2,152,158]. The palatability of prairie sandreed to livestock and wildlife species has been rated as follows [46,152]:

Cattle Good Fair Fair Good Good
Domestic sheep Fair Fair Fair ---- Fair
Horses Good Fair Fair ---- Good
Pronghorn ---- Poor Poor ---- ----
Elk ---- Fair ---- ---- ----
Mule deer ---- Poor Poor ---- ----
White-tailed deer ---- ---- Poor ---- ----
Small mammals ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Small nongame birds ---- ---- Poor ---- ----
Upland game birds ---- ---- Poor ---- ----

The nutritional value of prairie sandreed is lower than that of associated range grasses [28,135]. Prairie sandreed's nutritional value is rated as poor and its energy value rated as fair [12]. The minimum protein requirement of a lactating beef cow during July, August, and September ranges from 6 to 8%. The protein value for prairie sandreed in this period is below the minimum requirement [135]. The nutrient content of prairie sandreed in full bloom on 18 August in North Dakota is presented below [88]:

Moisture (%) Ash (%) Crude protein (%) Ether extract (%) Crude fiber (%) Nitrogen-free extract (%)
15.0 4.6 4.9 1.6 32.1 41.7

The table below provides 2-year (1946-1947) mean nutrient content of prairie sandreed in North Dakota [186]:

  May June July August September November
Moisture (%) 63.5 62.3 56.9 55.9 36.6 37.4
Carotene (mg/100 g.) 25.2 27.9 16.2 11.3 6.2 0.0
Protein (%) 15.0 12.7 9.3 6.6 4.4 2.9
Phosphorus (%) 0.27 0.25 0.19 0.19 0.10 0.04

The concentration of crude protein in prairie sandreed declines with plant maturity. A study of seasonal variations of the in-vitro dry-matter digestibility of prairie sandreed by cattle on the Fort Robinson Beef Cattle Research Station near Crawford, Nebraska, found crude protein content of prairie sandreed exhibited a significant (p<0.05) correlation with its in-vitro dry-matter digestibility. The seasonal trends in the nutritive content of prairie sandreed in 1963 are present below [30]:

  31 May 12 July 23 August 1 November
Acid detergent fiber (%) 37.5 38.5 40.0 47.8
Crude protein (%) 11.0 5.3 3.6 1.0
Dry matter digestibility (%) 65.0 53.0 45.5 38.5
Lignin (%) 3.6 5.5 6.7 7.0

At the Cottonwood Range Field Station in southwestern South Dakota the percent of crude protein and dry matter digestibility also seasonally decreased in prairie sandreed [34]:

  17 June 28 June 17 July 16 August 13 September
Crude protein (%) 11.1 9.0 6.2 4.8 3.0
Dry matter digestibility (%) ~67.0 ~63.0 ~64.0 ~56.0 ~52.0

Cover value: Given its tall, dense stature [127], prairie sandreed likely provides cover for a variety of wildlife species. A study of waterfowl on small impoundments in southeastern Alberta found that on 660 study quadrats, waterfowl chose prairie sandreed 60% of the time as their primary nesting cover [97]. On the Samuel H. Ordway Jr. Memorial Prairie, South Dakota, thatching ants selectively choose prairie sandreed stands to construct mounds protected from direct sunlight [172]. Prairie sandreed has also been found within 8.2 feet (2.5 m) of thatching ant mounds on Illinois Beach State Park, which borders Lake Michigan. Beattie and Culver [94] suggest, however, that prairie sandreed stands encroach on ant mounds, causing them to decline structurally. Prairie sandreed provides an important source of cover for black-tailed prairie dog towns in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota [156]. The cover value of prairie sandreed for wildlife species in Montana and North Dakota has been rated as follows [46]:

Pronghorn ---- Fair
Mule deer ---- Good
White-tailed deer ---- ----
Small mammals Fair ----
Small nongame birds Fair Good
Upland game birds Good Good
Waterfowl ---- Fair

Prairie sandreed has excellent sand-binding and soil stabilizing properties [19,26,63,75,85,113,152,174]. Its characteristic tough, scaly, vigorous rhizomes and its adaptability to sandblown environments enable prairie sandreed to produce cover on disturbed sandy sites [19]. Prairie sandreed was the most successful of 8 grass species in reestablishing vegetation on sand "blowout" sites by significantly (p<0.05) reducing the movement of sand on rangelands in north-central and western Nebraska. Prairie sandreed was introduced on 12 blowout sites at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Station near Scottsbluff on 15 April 1976. Prairie sandreed successfully established on the 12 blowout sites and average density and frequency of occurrence measurements were made in August 1976 and June 1977 [113]:

  1976 1977
Stand density (plants/m) 18.9 20.9
Frequency of occurrence (%) 58.0 57.0

Sand movement measurements were taken for 2 periods on the 12 blowout sites. The study period (April 1976 to May 1977) includes that part of 1976 before prairie sandreed established on the study sites, when winds were strongest and most erosive in the area. The mean amount of sand added, sand removed, and total sand movement (tonnes/ha) in the 12 blowouts are presented below [113]:

  4/1976 to 5/1977 7/1976 to 5/1977
Sand added 401 214
Sand removed 516 225
Total sand movement 917 439

Early spring to mid-summer sowing allows seedlings time to establish roots before winter freeze [157]. In revegetation trials performed in the Fort Union Basin, Montana, Eddleman [56] found that prairie sandreed seeds established best when planted in mid-spring when soil temperature was approximately 59 F (15 C). Recommendations for seed density rates and sowing depths are available (e.g., [138,157,176]). As of 2005, 5 cultivars of prairie sandreed seed ('Common', 'Goshen', 'Pronghorn', 'ND-95', and 'Bowman') were commercially available [26,54,91,131,138,151,157,169,170,187].

Fertilizer effects: In southwestern North Dakota, nitrogen was added to native rangelands to test the production potential of the site. Four levels of nitrogen were used on experimental plots. Prairie sandreed plants showed an increase in average basal cover and number of plants per 1 foot with increased rates of nitrogen to the 67-pound (30.3 kg) level. While the number of plants per 1 foot continued to increase at the 100 pound (45.3 kg) level, basal cover began to decrease [70]:

  0 lbs. (0 kg) 33 lbs (14.9 kg) 67 lbs. (30.3 kg) 100 lbs. (45.3 kg)
Average basal cover (%) 0.17 0.22 0.37 0.33
Average # plants/ft 0.77 0.84 1.15 1.45

If not cut "too late" in the growing season, prairie sandreed produces hay of acceptable quality [63,160]. In the sandhills of Nebraska, prairie sandreed composed 30% of good condition rangeland stands, with 10% each of sand bluestem, needle-and-thread, blue grama, and hairy grama, which produced a yield of 3,000 pounds per acre of air-dry herbage [145].

Grazing: Prairie sandreed has been described as both a decreaser [1,42,93,125] and an increaser [21,135,192] under grazing pressure. Generally, prairie sandreed only increases for a "short time" under heavy grazing pressure when it is associated with sand bluestem and big bluestem [42,93].

Two studies in the Nebraska sandhills prairie found prairie sandreed decreased under "intense" grazing. One study found that prairie sandreed's total aboveground biomass increased 2- to 4-fold in 3 years and 3- to 6-fold 4 years after the complete removal of "intense" summer cattle grazing [136]. The 2nd study found that prairie sandreed decreased in June and July under even light cattle grazing. In June 1995, increased stocking rates from 16 to 48 animal unit days per ha (AUD/ha) reduced prairie sandreed stem density levels, while stem density levels increased in July by roughly 21/m for each 10 AUD/ha increase from 16 to 48 AUD. The following year stocking rate effects on stem density levels were not repeated or sustained as in 1995. In 1995 between March and June, precipitation levels were 87% greater and mean temperatures were 9 F (5 C) to 11 F (6 C) less than in the same period, 1996. The researchers speculate that the effects of grazing on stem density levels are inconsistent and limited by environmental factors [142].

On the Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado, prairie sandreed was found to be a significant (p<0.01) decreaser under relatively light grazing. The removal of standing biomass at the end of the grazing season in mid-October at the study site was about 30% to 35%. On much of the shortgrass steppe of the National Grassland, standing biomass removal averaged 50% to 60%. A comparison of areas that had not been grazed since approximately 1937 and currently grazed areas found that the percent cover of prairie sandreed on ungrazed sites was 2.19%, while percent cover on grazed sites was 0.46% [122].

Nonnative species: A study of the effects of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) has on plant species richness in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park found plots infested with leafy spurge had a significantly (p<0.05) detrimental effect on prairie sandreed. Across study plots in prairie sandreed communities, the average number of prairie sandreed plants was 41 on uninfested sites compared to 2 on infested sites. The infested sites had at least 25% leafy spurge cover, with the majority having >50% coverage [32].


SPECIES: Calamovilfa longifolia
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