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a tract of grassland in North America (Canada and the United States) resembling a steppe or, less frequently, a savanna. Prairie soils are similar to chernozems. The natural grass vegetation, which has survived in small areas, forms a thick, high (up to 1.5 m) cover consisting primarily of perennial grasses with deep root systems. The principal species are beard grass, feather grass, and couch grass. Trees are encountered primarily in river valleys and the least dry low-lying regions. In the north there are stands of aspen, poplar, and willow, and in the south oak, hazel, and poplar predominate. Forest-steppe areas with birch, aspen, and pine woodlands have survived in some parts of Canada. The term “prairies” is also used to designate level regions in North America having open woodlands and thick, high grassy vegetation.