The Westport Woods Conservation Park Tallgrass Meadow by Greg Stone

Tallgrass meadow is capable of supporting significant biodiversity. As its name suggests, the most obvious features of the tallgrass meadow habitat are tall grasses, such as indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Here’s a closer look:

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) provides excellent fodder for ruminant livestock

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) is commonly known as turkey foot due to the shape of the seed head

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) can grow up to eight feet tall

These hardy grasses flourish in diverse soil conditions and require only moderate rainfall, around 30-35 inches per year. In the midwest  large expanses of grassland were historically grazed by the American Bison. In the northeast infrequent fire and windthrow provided corridors within beech-maple forests where tallgrass meadows were ephemeral.

Modern tallgrass meadows in New England are managed with controlled burns, the grazing of ruminant livestock, and annual or bi-annual mowing at select times of year.