Western Michigan University's Parkview Campus, which houses the Engineering and Applied Sciences Building and the central parkway of the Business and Technology Park, is planted with large expanses of a historic southwest Michigan native ecosystem called prairie. Prairies are landscapes dominated by warm season grasses like little bluestem, big bluestem, switchgrass and Indian grass that are filled with numerous species of broadleaf flowering perennials often referred to as forbs. These communities are deep rooted, long lived and require few added resources once established. Mowing and prescribed fire are the primary management tools used to maintain prairie landscapes. Prairie habitats support many species of wildlife from insects to large mammals with nectar, seeds, browse and cover throughout the year. The central parkway landscape of the BTR Park is a working landscape that filters and recharges stormwater back to the underground aquifer. Prairie plants also help filter water by trapping sediment and runoff as well as processing water in their extensive root systems. The walking path around the campus is a great place to see what is now a very rare landscape.
Business Technology and Research Park maps
- Overview map
- South unit map
- Management zone one
- Management zone two
- Management zone three
- Management zone four
- Management zone five
Wild lupine (lupinus perennis) is one of the earlier native prairie plants to bloom at the Parkview Campus in June. This is the host plant to the Michigan-threatened and federally-endangered karner blue butterfly (lycaeides melissa samuelis). Once the bloom is done and the plants are setting seed, they fade into the understory of the prairie grasses and forbs.
White false indigo (baptisia lactea) blooms early in summer along with wild lupine. White false indigo is a deep-rooted long-lived perennial that may take 10 years to mature to blooming size. The white pea-like flowers and blue-green foliage make this a showy addition to the prairie landscape.
Spiderwort (tradescantia virginiana) is another early blooming perennial of the prairie community. While individual flowers last only one day, new blooms appear throughout the spring and early summer.