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Native Plant Initiative

2021 NPI Plant Sale #2

About the Native Plant Initiative

Historically, native grasses and forbs (wildflowers) were abundant across the Northern Great Plains. Native plants are the foundation that supports insects, pollinators (including bees), birds, and wildlife. Loss of grasslands and invasive plants began to emerge as problems in the 1800s. Initially, managing vegetation was simply removing occasional invasive plants from a background of native plants. However, now our grasslands are so heavily impacted that management can be envisioned as restoring native plants in a background of invasive species. Further, so few grasslands remain that we need to maximize the biodiversity of native plants in every area possible. These areas include private and public lands such as grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, farms, ranches, parks, yards, and urban areas.

This new reality requires a more thorough understanding of native plant restoration and production than currently exists for native plants in the Northern Great Plains.

The Native Plant Initiative is sponsored by the Department of Natural Resource Management (NRM), the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Sciences (AHPS) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). This Initiative is led by Dr. Lora Perkins in the Department of Natural Resource Management.


To support the use of native plants in private and public lands in the Northern Great Plains through research, education, and outreach


  • Abundant and diverse native plants providing ecosystem services and natural heritage throughout the Northern Great Plains
  • Engaged stakeholders, excited collaborators, and an educated public involved in expanding native plant use region-wide
  • Vibrant and profitable native plant material production, distribution, and trade supporting the expanded use of native plants region-wide 

2020 Native Plant Photo Contest Winners


First winner: Purple Prairie Clover by Cynthia Bergsbaken

Purple Prairie Clover

Second winner: Anemone; Patens; Pasque Flower by Emily Mack

Photographed at sunset in a native prairie Codington County

Third winner: Cypripedium montanum (mountain lady’s slipper orchid) by Daryl Mergen

Cypripedium montanum (mountain lady’s slipper orchid) is a rare orchid in South Dakota. It was first reported in 2008 within the Black Hills and may only be known from three locations. Each location with only a few plants. Their flower structures are unique and require an insect of a specific size to enter the slipper (pouch) in order to collect pollen.

Special winner: Hoksi Cekpa; Pasque Flower; Pulstilla by Kahomy Souksavath

Hoksi Cekpa Pasque Flower Pulstilla


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Two SDSU faculty receive international ecology award

Associate professor Lora Perkins and assistant professor A. Joshua Leffler of the South Dakota State University Department of Natural Resource Management have been awarded the Bradshaw Medal from the Society for Ecological Restoration.