Skip to main content

Native Plants | Creating Prairie Habitats and Meadowscaping

May contain: art, collage, animal, bird, flower, and plant

Oak woodland, oak savanna, and upland prairie habitats occur in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and Coast range. Wet prairies are found in the poorly drained soils of the Willamette Valley floor. These oak and prairie habitats are some of the most culturally important and imperiled ecosystems in Oregon. According to Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, only 7% of historic oak woodlands and 4% of oak savanna and upland prairie habitats still exist, and most of it is in private ownership1. Our regional oak woodlands are dominated by an overstory of Oregon white oak (Quercus garryanna). The open understory accommodates grasses, forbs, and shrubs, which provide habitat for a number of sensitive or at-risk species including western gray squirrel, acorn woodpecker, and slender-billed nuthatch. A large group of acorn woodpeckers can be seen in the oaks right by the headquarters office at Finley Wildlife Refuge. Oak savannas are dominated by grasses and forbs, with widely spaced, open- rowned white oaks. Upland prairies have a very similar species composition but without the oaks and usually with deeper, moister soils. Some of the rare species found in oak savannas and upland prairies include: Kincaid’s lupine, peacock larkspur, golden paintbrush, Willamette daisy, Fender’s blue butterfly, Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, and Oregon vesper sparrow. A number of Benton SWCD’s programs and outreach efforts focus on restoring these special habitats.