The mid-latitude grasslands differ from tropical savanna, because here they lack scattered trees or bushes except along rivers or streams. In this biome the grasses are shallow-rooted and the underground parts tend to form a matted turf that checks the penetration of rainwater to deeper layers.
The grasslands are found in the middle latitudes of South America, North America, Africa and Asia. There are grasslands in the interior and they spread from Canada southward into Mexico.
The grasses in the North American grassland fall into two categories: tall grasses and short grasses. The mid-latitude grasslands have been modified by human activity. These grasslands are called the world’s bread baskets regions of grain and livestock production.
In these regions deciduous trees with broad leaves are found along rivers and other limited areas only. Because of the preponderance of grass-like plants these regions are called grasslands.
In North America there is a clear east-west belt of tall grass prairie and short grass prairie that is related to moisture and a north-south species gradient that is related to temperature.
The tall grass prairie in the east contains patches of hickory-oak woodland. The mixed-grass prairie is the most typical prairie vegetation. Short grass prairie is found at the dry western margin of this biome and contains drought resistant plants like the prickly pear.
Since the soils of the mid-latitude grasslands are deep and fertile, now they are largely cultivated for grain crops. However, at present only few patches of original prairies (tall grasslands) or steppes (short grasslands) remain within this biome.
In fact, the original prairies have been reduced from 100 million hectares down to a few areas of several hundred hectares each.
Outside North America, the mid-latitude grassland biomes consist of the Pampas of Argentina and Uruguay, and the grasslands of Ukraine. In each region of the world where these grasslands were present, they have been modified and encroached upon by the modern civilized man.