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Native Plant Initiative

About the Native Plant Initiative

Originally, the landscape in the Northern Great Plains was dense and diverse with native grasses and forbs (wildflowers). However, many areas in the Northern Great Plains are now degraded due to natural and anthropogenic causes such as, but not limited to, invasive species and saline/sodic soils. Historically, native vegetation management involved removing invasive species from areas dominated native plants or restoring small degraded areas. Now, our grasslands are so full of invasive plants and such large areas are degraded that restoration is a much more difficult endeavor. We are restoring native plants into areas dominated by invasive species and restoring expanses of degraded land. This new reality requires a more thorough understanding of native plant restoration and production than currently exists for native plants of 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 conduct research, education and outreach to support excellence in native plant restoration and production for the Northern Great Plains


  • To produce rigorous, innovative, and reliable data-driven science to inform native plant restoration and production.
  • To disseminate this information to the scientific community, stakeholders, public and private land managers and the public.
  • To engage students at every level (K-12, undergraduate and graduate) in our research and outreach activities.

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.