Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

The Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois


Prairie Plant Terminology — Special Glossary for the poster Prairie Wildflowers, published by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in 2004


  • achene — a one-seeded fruit that does not split open
  • alkaloid — a chemical compound found in plants that contain nitrogen, often used in medicines, drugs, or as a poison
  • allelopathic — the suppression of growth of one plant species due to the release of chemical substances by another species
  • calcareous fen — a wetland habitat where the water is alkaline
  • capsule — a dry fruit that opens along two or more slits to release the seeds
  • corm — a short, vertical, swollen underground stem of a plant that stores food over the winter and produces new foliage in the spring.
  • degraded prairie — a prairie that has been severely disturbed so that many non-native plants occur and only some plants of the original prairie remain
  • forb — a nongrass-like wildflower found in a prairie
  • glade — an opening in a forest with bedrock on or near the surface and with prairie plants
  • high quality prairie — a prairie that has had little disturbance and
  • inflorescence — a cluster or group of flowers
  • mesic prairie — a prairie where the soil is most for much of the growing season; the most typical kind of prairie found in Illinois prior to European settlement
  • pod — a follicle, a dry fruit that opens by one slit to release the seeds
  • prairie — a habitat where the plants are mostly grasses and forbs
  • rhizome — a horizontal stem that is underground, sometimes thickened and forming an overwintering structure
  • savanna — a habitat with widely spaced trees and a ground cover of grasses and forbs
  • transpiration — the evaporation of water vapor from leaves of plants

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