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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.


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

Our People

Native Plant Spotlight

Penstemon grandiflorus

USDA Plants Database Common Name: Large Beardtongue
Native American (Lakota) Name1: Kimimila tawanatica
Other Common Names: Shell-leaf Penstemon, Large-Flowered Penstemon, Showy Beardtongue

    Penstemon grandiflorus is a perennial that will grow 1-3 feet tall. It is native to the Midwest and Southwestern US. It provides abundant resources for pollinators2 when it blooms from April through July. It is commonly found in sandy to loamy prairie soils and will grow in bare patches like those created by pocket gophers3.  


1Reese, N.; Native Plant Research at South Dakota State University, Penstemon grandifloras, 22: South Dakota State University;  2019 April 26; Click OpenPrairie.
2Clinebell, R. R., & Bernhardt, P. (1998). The pollination ecology of five species of Penstemon (Scrophulariaceae) in the tallgrass prairie. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 126-136.
3Davis, M. A., Ritchie, B., Graf, N., & Gregg, K. (1995). An experimental study of the effects of shade, conspecific crowding, pocket gophers and surrounding vegetation on survivorship, growth and reproduction in Penstemon grandiflorus. American Midland Naturalist, 237-243.