noun, often attributive \ˈprer-ē\

: a large, mostly flat area of land in North America that has few trees and is covered in grasses

Full Definition of PRAIRIE

:  land in or predominantly in grass
:  a tract of grassland: as
a :  a large area of level or rolling land in the Mississippi River valley that in its natural uncultivated state usually has deep fertile soil, a cover of tall coarse grasses, and few trees
b :  one of the dry treeless plateaus east of the Rocky Mountains that merge on their east side with the prairies proper and are characterized by shorter grasses and drier less fertile soil

Examples of PRAIRIE

  1. Millions of buffalo once roamed the prairies.
  2. The train tracks extend over miles of prairie.

Origin of PRAIRIE

French, from Old French praierie, from Vulgar Latin *prataria, from Latin pratum meadow
First Known Use: circa 1682

Other Ecology Terms

Malthusian, anthropogenic, biomass, carbon footprint, crepuscular, niche, sere, symbiosis, taiga, tundra


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

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.


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