Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands


Navajo Nation/Diné Bikéyah
Covers 27,425 square miles in northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico.
Navajo people have strong family bonds and enjoy a rich cultural, spiritual, and daily life, often based on small-scale farming and ranching. These human strengths, traditional lifestyles, knowledge, values, and resources are the foundation of the Navajo people (Diné)

Open country or woodland used for grazing animals

A plant growing outside its historical range

A plant that tends to spread beyond its historical range, often in response to disturbance

A plant that is particularly troublesome.

Official definition from USDA APHIS
Any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops..., livestock, poultry or other interests of agriculture, irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the public health, or the environment.
For more information about introduced, invasive, and noxious plants of the U.S.:

When eaten or touched, may cause harm or death.
A poisonous or toxic plant may be harmful or fatal to some animals and not to others, or it may be harmful only at certain quantities or when eaten in combination with certain other plants. Some are only toxic at certain times of the year or at a certain growing stage of the plant. Stress from drought, freezing, or physical damage can also sometimes cause certain plants to be poisonous.

Annual plants:
A plant that lives for one year, during which it completes its life cycle.

Biennial plants:
A plant that grows for two years, producing its fruit and seed in the second year.

Perennial plants:
A plant that lives for three years or more. This includes plants that live just a few years and those that live many, many years.

Cool season plants:
Plants which begin growth early in the spring and make most of their growth during the cool weather of spring and early fall. Examples are western wheatgrass and Indian ricegrass.

Warm season plants:
Plants which begin growth and make most of their growth during the hot summer months. Examples are blue grama and sand dropseed.

Navajo Endangered Species List Definitions

from the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources Department of Fish and Wildlife

Group 1:
Those species or subspecies that no longer occur on the Navajo Nation.

GROUP 2 (G2) & GROUP 3 (G3):
"Endangered" - Any species or subspecies whose prospects of survival or recruitment within the Navajo Nation are in jeopardy or are likely within the foreseeable future to become so.

  • G2: A species or subspecies whose prospects of survival or recruitment are in jeopardy.
  • G3: A species or subspecies whose prospects of survival or recruitment are likely to be in jeopardy in the foreseeable future.

Group 4:
Any species or subspecies for which the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife NNDFW does not currently have sufficient information to support their being listed in G2 or G3 but has reason to consider them. The NNDFWL will actively seek information on these species to determine if they warrant inclusion in a different group or removal from the list.

Habitat Types

Dominated by shrubs and bushes, such as sagebrush, four-winged saltbush, blackbrush, greasewood, etc.

Mainly grassy; may include occasional shrubs, bushes, trees, or cacti.

Piñon-Juniper Woodland:
Patchy forested area of mainly shorter trees. May also include shrubs and grasses.

Ponderosa Pine / Mixed Conifer:
Fully developed forest dominated by tall trees. May also include shrubs and grasses.

River valleys:
Area around a watercourse, which may include sections dominated by grasses, trees, shrubs or wetland plants.

Barren or disturbed areas of sparse or weedy vegetation; may include previously cultivated land.

Plant Terms

Supports a plant above ground and connects roots to leaves.

Growth point along a plant's stem, often where a leaf stalk connects.

A plant whose branches lie directly on the ground or just above it.

A plant that grows more or less vertically.

Underground stems that put out shoots and roots.

Creeping stems that can root into the ground.

Related to stems:

  • Alternate Arrangement of leaves on stems where one leaf or stem forms at one node and the next from another node on the other side of the stem.
  • Basal Growth emerges from the base of the plant
  • Opposite Arrangements where two plant stems or leaves form at the same node from opposite sides of the stem.
  • Whorled Arrangement where three or more stems or leaves are clustered around the same node.

Related to leaves:

  • Compound: a leaf that is actually made up of leaflets joined together.
  • Dentate: toothed.
  • Leaflet: a small leaflike structure that is actually part of a larger unit called a compound leaf.
  • Lobed: (of a leaf) having rounded sections.
  • Lanceolate: (of a leaf's shape) long and narrow, but wider in the middle.
  • Linear: long and very narrow.
  • Margin: the outer edge of a leaf.
  • Palmate: palm shaped with lobes or leaflets radiating from a central point.
  • Palmately compound: a leaf composed of leaflets that radiate from a central point.
  • Palmately lobed: having rounded sections that radiate from a central point at the base of the leaf.
  • Pinnately lobed: having rounded sections that are arranged along the central axis of the leaf.
  • Serrate: much like being toothed except that the "teeth" all face in a particular direction.
  • Simple: describes a leaf that is not divided into leaflets. What most people think of as a leaf is a simple leaf.
  • Oblong: almost like a rectangle but with rounded edges.
  • Ovate: egg-shaped with the wider part of the leaf near where it joins the stem.
  • Tomentose: having dense, velvety, fuzzy hairs.

Related to grasses:

  • Bunchgrass: grass with a compact (clumping), rather than spreading, growth habit.
  • Culms: stems or stalks of grasses and sedges, usually hollow and jointed.
  • Floret: just like other plants, grasses have flowers called florets, which are very small and inconspicuous. They later turn into individual seeds.
  • Glabrous: having a smooth surface
  • Glumes: bracts (see definition for bracts under flower) around the spikelet
  • Inflorescence: refers to the entire portion of the grass that bears flowers or seeds. In some cases, the inflorescence is small. In other cases, quite large. For a good example of the latter, see the entry on Uruguayan pampas grass.
  • Panicle: a grass seedhead that has a very branched structure: a main stem with branches that in turn have smaller stalks (spikelets) with seeds on each stalk.
  • Pubescent: covered with fine hairs
  • Raceme: a central stalk with small branches with spikelets attached to them.
  • Rachis: shaft or stem
  • Spike: a grass seedhead where the spikelets are directly attached to the main stem.
  • Spikelet: grass flowers and seeds are arranged along stems ranging in size and location in the plant's overall structure. A spikelet is something like a twig in relation to a tree. It is a very small "stem" that provides an axis along which flowers grow.
  • Tillers: new shoots that spring up off of stolons.

Related to flowers:

  • Anther: the part of the stamen that contains the pollen; it usually has the appearance of an oval, yellow sac or ball.
  • Bract: a leaflike structure at the base of a flower. Bracts differ from sepals because they are attached directly to the stem, and they are separate from the flower or inflorescence.
  • involucre: a whorl of bracts at the base of a flower; involucres are quite noticeable in sunflowers and other members of the aster family.
  • Pistil: female part of a flower that receives pollen.
  • Sepal: sepals can often be confused with bracts because they also can be leaflike, and they enclose the petals of a flower. Sepals are particularly noticeable on roses because they come up to cup the flower.
  • Stamen: male part of the flower comprising a filament (like a little stem) with a large amount of pollen at the end of it.

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