Penn-Sylvania Prairie, with 46 plant species documented in one 20 X 20 inch, has set a new world record for plant species richness at a fine scale. Photo: Bruce Schuette

Penn-Sylvania Prairie

About Penn-sylvania Prairie

This 160-acre site was acquired by MPF in 1971. It is part of an MPF complex of prairies including Coyne Prairie one-quarter mile to the north (an 80-acre privately owned, original remnant prairie is directly north of Penn-Sylvania)—and the Welsch Tract to the northwest, and is in the Golden Grasslands Conservation Opportunity Area and the Golden Grasslands Important Bird Area. Penn-Sylvania Prairie is a stop along the Great Missouri Birding Trail. This prairie also is approximately one mile southwest from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s/The Nature Conservancy’s Niawathe Prairie Natural Area (320 acres) and less than two miles southeast of MDC’s Stony Point Prairie Conservation Area (960 acres). 

Penn-Sylvania Prairie, named for an historical town in the area, is a dry-mesic sandstone/shale prairie natural community and includes rare prairie swales. 

A total of 289 plant species have been recorded from Penn-Sylvania, with an average CC value of 4.20, and 40 conservative species. In July 2018, botanist Brett Budach with the Institute of Botanical Training was resampling vegetation at MPF’s Penn-Sylvania Prairie and recorded an astonishing 46 native species in a quarter-meter quadrat (20 x 20 inches), which Justin Thomas with IBT verified. In an article on world records of plant species richness published by the Journal of Vegetative Science in 2012, the stated record holder at this scale is a grassland in the Czech Republic, with 44 species. It appears that Penn-Sylvania Prairie has set a new world record for plant richness at this scale.

Five species of conservation concern at Penn-Sylvania Prairie include the regal fritillary butterfly, prairie mole cricket, and northern crawfish frog. Grassland birds documented at this prairie include northern bobwhite, Henslow’s sparrow, and upland sandpiper. Smith longspurs have been documented here in winter.

2020 Missouri River Bird Observatory Breeding Bird Surveys on MPF Properties

2018 Institute of Botanical Training Floristic Integrity Report (includes Penn-Sylvania Prairie)

2018 Missouri River Bird Observatory Breeding Bird Surveys on MPF Properties (includes Penn-Sylvania Prairie)

Annotated Ant List for Penn-Sylvania Prairie

Biodiversity Snapshot article from the Missouri Prairie Journal about MPF’s Prairie BioBlitz at Penn-Sylvania Prairie in 2010


Penn-Sylvania Prairie is located in Dade County on CR 199, about 17 miles east of Lamar. Drive 2 miles west of Highway 97 on Highway E, then south on CR 199 for 0.5 miles. Parking is available at the gate on the west side of CR 199. By GPS, N37 30.172 W93 59.176 (in decimal degrees, 37.502829 -93.986179).

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