Temperate grassland biomes are characterized by having various grasses as the primary plant types. Large shrubs and trees rarely grow in these biomes. Major temperate grasslands include the prairies and plains of North America, the pampas in South America, the steppes in the former Soviet Union and the veldts of South Africa. Temperate grasslands have cold winters, hot summers, moderate rainfall and dark, fertile soils.
Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) grows along stream banks in the pampas of South America. This grass can reach up to 12 feet tall and grows in large clumps known as tussoks. The dark green leaves are very sharp. Pampas grass blooms large, pink, plume-like flowers. Each pampas grass plant can produce more than a million seeds, making this a very prolific grass.
Big Bluestem Grass
Big bluestem grass (Andropogon gerardii), also called turkey feet grass, is found primarily in the prairie grasslands of the Midwestern United States. Big bluestem grass forms three-inch purple, green or bronze seed heads that look like little turkey feet. This 10-foot tall grass grows in dense clumps which keeps other plants from receiving sunlight. The deep root systems keep the plants from being blown away in the prairie winds. The tall, slender stems appear bluish-green during the summer but turn bronze in the autumn. This grass blooms from June until September.
Blue Grama Grass
Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) is a tufted, perennial grass that grows in the North American temperate grasslands during the warm seasons. This grass reaches up to 18 inches in height, and its shallow, dense root systems keep the soil from being blown away. The shallow roots also allow the plants to quickly absorb any rainfall. The crescent-shaped flowers bloom from June through August. This grass goes dormant during winter months and drought conditions.
Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is a hardy plant that grows primarily in the North American temperate grasslands. This warm-season shortgrass only reaches about five inches in height, but spreads out between six and 12 feet. Buffalo grass is green in the summer, lavender in the fall and tan in the winter. It also turns brown and goes dormant during dry periods. Buffalo grass blooms four- to eight-inch flower clusters in yellow and golden tones.
Tropical milkweed plants (Asclepias curassavica), also called blood flowers, are herbs that thrive in the South American grasslands. Tropical milkweed blooms small, yellow and red blossoms that attract monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. Tropical milkweed grows to between two and three-and-a-half feet, and has leaves that reach a foot long. Tropical milkweed gets its name from its poisonous white sap.
The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a native plant of the North American temperate grassland biome. This member of Asteraceae family has purplish-pink, drooping petals that surround a red or orange center disk. These flowers typically bloom from June through August. The purple coneflower can reach heights of five feet.