prairie

prairielike, adj.
/prair"ee/, n.
1. an extensive, level or slightly undulating, mostly treeless tract of land in the Mississippi valley, characterized by a highly fertile soil and originally covered with coarse grasses, and merging into drier plateaus in the west. Cf. pampas, savanna, steppe.
2. a tract of grassland; meadow.
3. (in Florida) a low, sandy tract of grassland often covered with water.
4. Southern U.S. wet grassland; marsh.
5. (cap.) a steam locomotive having a two-wheeled front truck, six driving wheels, and a two-wheeled rear truck. See table under Whyte classification.
[1675-85; < F: meadow < VL *prataria, equiv. to L prat(um) meadow + -aria, fem. of -arius -ARY]

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I
Level or rolling grassland, especially that found in central North America.

Decreasing amounts of rainfall, from 40 in. (100 cm) at the forested eastern edge to less than 12 in. (30 cm) at the desertlike western edge, affect the species composition of the prairie grassland. The vegetation is composed primarily of perennial grasses, with many species of flowering plants of the pea and composite families. The three main types of prairie are the tallgrass prairie; midgrass, or mixed-grass, prairie; and shortgrass prairie, or shortgrass plains. Coastal prairie, Pacific or California prairie, Palouse prairie, and desert plains grassland are covered primarily with combinations of mixed-grass and shortgrass species.
II
(as used in expressions)

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      level or rolling grassland, especially that found in central North America. Decreasing amounts of rainfall, from 100 cm (about 40 inches) at the forested eastern edge to less than 30 cm (about 12 inches) at the desertlike western edge, affect the species composition of the prairie grassland. The vegetation is composed primarily of perennial grasses, with many species of flowering plants of the pea and composite families. Most authorities recognize three basic subtypes of prairie: tallgrass prairie; midgrass, or mixed-grass, prairie; and shortgrass prairie, or shortgrass plains. Coastal prairie, Pacific or California prairie, Palouse prairie, and desert plains grassland are primarily covered with combinations of mixed-grass and shortgrass species.

 Tallgrass prairie, sometimes called true prairie, is found in the eastern, more humid region of the prairie that borders deciduous forest. The rich soil is laced with the deep roots of sod-forming tallgrasses such as big bluestem and prairie cordgrass (see photograph—>), or slough grass, in the wet lowlands and the shorter roots of bunchgrasses such as needlegrass, or porcupine grass, and prairie dropseed on the drier upland sites.

      Midgrass, or mixed-grass, prairie, supporting both bunchgrasses and sod-forming grasses, is the most extensive prairie subtype and occupies the central part of the prairie region. Species of porcupine grass, grama grass, wheatgrass, and buffalo grass dominate the vegetation. Sand hills are common in the western portion bordering the shortgrass plains.

      Shortgrass plains occupy the driest part of the prairie and are covered primarily by species of buffalo grass and grama grass. Kentucky bluegrass, although not a native prairie species, is found in all three major prairie subtypes.

      The bison, wolf, and most prairie chickens have disappeared from the prairie; but the coyote, prairie dog, jackrabbit, badger, horned lark, meadowlark, and various species of hawks and waterfowl are still common. Insects also are abundant, especially grasshoppers and flies.

      In the past, a combination of high summer temperatures, strong winds, late summer drought, and accumulations of dead vegetation set the stage for many naturally caused fires, which prevented trees from becoming abundant in prairie vegetation. Now the fertile prairie soils (brunizem, chernozem, chestnut, and brown soils) are intensely cultivated (primarily corn in the eastern part and wheat in the central area) or grazed (especially the shortgrass region), and little native prairie remains, other than in small protected patches. See also plain.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • prairie — [ preri ] n. f. • praiere 1150; de pré ♦ Surface couverte de plantes herbacées (graminées et légumineuses) qui fournit du fourrage au bétail. Prairie naturelle ou permanente, non ensemencée. ⇒ pré; embouche, herbage, 1. noue, pâturage. Faucher… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Prairie — Prai rie, n. [F., an extensive meadow, OF. praerie, LL. prataria, fr. L. pratum a meadow.] 1. An extensive tract of level or rolling land, destitute of trees, covered with coarse grass, and usually characterized by a deep, fertile soil. They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Prairie — (engl. Prärie ) ist geografische Bezeichnung von Baileys Prairie, Ort im Brazoria County, US Bundesstaat Texas Blooming Prairie, Stadt im Steele County, Minnesota , USA Eden Prairie, Stadt im US Bundesstaat Minnesota Grande Prairie Stadt in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Prairie — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Nom commun …   Wikipédia en Français

  • prairie — (n.) tract of level or undulating grassland in North America, 1773, from Fr. prairie, from O.Fr. praerie (12c.), from V.L. *prataria, from L. pratum meadow, originally a hollow. The word existed in Middle English as prayere, but was lost and… …   Etymology dictionary

  • prairie — Prairie. s. f. Grande estenduë de terre en pré. Il y a en cet endroit une prairie de deux lieuës, le long de la riviere. aller à la prairie. se promener dans la prairie, dans les prairies …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Prairie [1] — Prairie (spr. Prähri), in Nordamerika große mit Gras u. Schilf bewachsene Ebene …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Prairie [2] — Prairie, 1) (spr. Prähri), Grafschaft im Staate Arkansas (Nordamerika), ungefähr 50 QM., im Osten vom White River, im Norden von den Cypreß u. Des Arc Baoux begrenzt; große Prairien u. Waldungen; Producte: Baumwolle, Mais, Rindvieh; 1850: 2097 Ew …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Prairie — (franz.), s. Prärien …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Prairie — (frz.), s. Prärie …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Prairie — (prerih), heißt in Nordamerika eine große Grasebene …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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