A Forb is a plant that flowers but is not shaped like a grass or woody stemmed like a tree. The long grass prairie has many different types of forbs. The forbs have special adaptations for life on the long grass prairie. They provide food for the animals, insects, birds, and herps of the prairie.
Some long grass prairie forbs like the black eyed Susan, purple cone flower, and sunflower grow in our gardens. The rattlesnake master, compass plant, and cup plant are not as common. The rattlesnake master's root was used by the Indians as a cure for rattlesnake bites. The compass plant grows 10 feet tall and the leaves grow on the north and south side of the stem. The pioneers could use this plant to help find their way. The cup plant leaves hold water. Travelers could always find a drink there.
Some animals, insects, birds, and herps eat forbs. Buffalos eat the nutritious purple prairie clover. T`he butterflies drink the nectar of the milkweed plant. Goldfinches love the thistle seeds. Herps eat the soft stems of many forbs.
Forbs need special characteristics to live on the prairie. Bristly hairs on the leaves help the plants conserve water. Their roots are longer than the roots of the grasses. These deep growing roots search for water and help the plant survive the hot prairie fires.