Shrubs in Grasslands

Grassland regions are covered with grass, and large shrubs and trees are usually absent unless growing along streams. Plants growing in grasslands need to withstand hot summers of 100 degrees F and cold winters where the temperature falls to minus 40. Moderate rain of 20 to 35 inches a year usually falls in the late spring and early summer. Grasslands typically have a seasonal drought, but the deep, fertile soil allows plants to survive. Wildfires sweep through the grasslands periodically, clearing away grasses and shrubs and encouraging the growth of a new generation of plants.

American Filbert

American filbert (Corylus americana) is also known as the American hazelnut. This deciduous shrub reaches 8 to 15 feet tall very quickly. The dark green, toothed leaves turn copper-red in the cooler weather in the fall. Yellowish-brown catkins droop downward from the ends of the branches in the early spring. By September, American filbert grows an edible nut. This shrub prefers sunny, dry sites. After a wildfire, the American filbert grows back swiftly to repopulate the area.


Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) is an 8-foot-tall shrub with green, oval leaves. The leaves have a long pointed tip, shiny top and pale undersides with black dots. The small white blossoms cluster together in groups of 3 to 5 inches across in spring. Clusters of dark blue berries ripen in the fall. Nannyberry is tolerant to arid conditions and provides songbirds with a fall food source.

Silky Dogwood

Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) is a deciduous shrub growing 6 to 10 feet tall. The green topped leaves are silver on their undersides. White flowers hang in clusters during the late spring. Pale blue fruit is produced in the summer and is quickly eaten by songbirds. The leaves change to a purplish-red color in the fall. Silky dogwood grows naturally in a round shape. This bush is found growing in wet places in the grasslands.

Wafer Ash

Wafer ash (Ptelea trifoliata) is a round-shaped shrub that reaches 18 feet tall in ideal growing conditions. The glossy dark green, trifoliate leaves and twigs give off a pungent odor when disturbed. The fragrant green and white blossoms appear in the spring and last throughout the summer. The seeds, or samaras, ripen in August and September. They form drooping seed clusters that last throughout the winter. Wafer ash tolerates long periods of intense heat.

Keywords: grassland shrubs, grassland climate, grassland bushes

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.