McKnight Prairie









McKnight Prairie

Conservation History of the McKnight Prairie




















McKnight Prairie Map


Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

  Printable map      



33½ acres




N44 30.052, W93 2.095


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

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          Goodhue County  
          Southeast Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


There are no maintained trails. A well worn footpath leads from the gap in the fence at the parking area to the ridgetop of West Hill. From there, it follows the ridgetop to the eastern boundary of the site. There are no other trails.




No hunting


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

  Ecological Section    

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

  Ecological Subsection    

Oak Savanna

  Land Type Association    

Hayfield Till Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Dry Bedrock Bluff Prairie (Southern)

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features


Ordovician (485.4 to 443.4 million years ago) St. Peter sandstone, glacial erratics, sandy blowouts






Visitor Photos

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    McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie  
    McKnight Prairie      

Gap in Fence

    McKnight Prairie      

Well Worn Footpath

    McKnight Prairie      

West Hill

    McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie  
    McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie  

Dry Bedrock Bluff Prairie (Southern)

    McKnight Prairie      

Sandy Areas

    McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie  

East Hill

    McKnight Prairie      

Hilltop Juniper

The “Hilltop Juniper” shown on the map provided by Carleton College (see Maps above) has been blown down or cut down. In 2013, the grayed skeleton of the downed tree was all that remained. There was another juniper tree close to the ridgeline near the eastern border of the site. In September 2013 it was heavily loaded with a good crop of greenish, berry-like cones.

  McKnight Prairie  

In April 2018 it was knocked over, uprooted, and dying.

  McKnight Prairie  



  McKnight Prairie Reservation
  McKnight Prairie Reservation  
  VIsiting McKnight Prairie
Christopher Tassava
  VIsiting McKnight Prairie  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Dickcissel at McKnight Prairie

Published on Jun 13, 2012

No description available.

  Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)
Scott King

Published on Mar 15, 2013

Female Variegated Meadowhawk filmed at the McKnight Prairie in Dakota County, Minnesota, on April 5, 2012.




Visitor Sightings

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One bird species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:


Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)


eBird Field Checklist


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)


Brown Thrasher

Mourning Dove

Northern Cardinal


Insects and Arachnids


Minnesota Bee Atlas

The Butterflies of McKnight Prairie

McKnight Prairie Ant Species List

McKnight Prairie Orthoptera Species List


black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

common green darner (Anax junius)

eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas)

goldenrod bunch gall midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus)

milkweed tussock moth (Euchaetes egle)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)


common green darner





One mammal species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster)


eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

  plains pocket gopher  



Nine plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


winter bentgrass (Agrostis hyemalis)


kittentails (Veronica bullii)

prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)

Special Concern

Canada frostweed (Crocanthemum canadense)

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)

purple sand grass (Triplasis purpurea)

rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium)

rhombic evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala)

white wild indigo (Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List

McKnight Prairie Plant Species List (Carleton College)


Plants frequently found in:

Dry Bedrock Bluff Prairie (Southern) UPs13c



American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

American germander (Teucrium canadense)

American pasqueflower (Anemone patens var. multifida)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

black walnut (Juglans nigra) (parking area)

black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

Canadian horseweed (Erigeron canadensis)

Canadian tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)

candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica)

Carolina whitlowgrass (Draba reptans)

catnip (Nepeta cataria)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

common smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve)

common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)

curly dock (Rumex crispus)

downy Parlin’s pussytoes (Antennaria parlinii ssp. fallax)

downy phlox (Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)

false boneset (Brickellia eupatorioides var. corymbulosa)

field sagewort (Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata)

flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata)

giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)

gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)

grooved yellow flax (Linum sulcatum var. sulcatum)

hairy false goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa)

hairy sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus)

heart-leaved golden alexanders (Zizia aptera)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

hoary alyssum (Berteroa incana)

hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

June grass (Koeleria macrantha)

large-flowered beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus)

leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

narrow-leaved hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

panicled aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)

partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata)

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)

plains snake-cotton (Froelichia floridana var. campestris)

plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides ssp. acanthoides)

prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)

prairie cordgrass (Sporobolus michauxianus)

prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)

prairie goldenrod (Solidago ptarmicoides)

prairie onion (Allium stellatum)

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

prairie smoke (Geum triflorum var. triflorum)

prairie willow (Salix humilis)

purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis)

purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

rabbit’s foot clover (Trifolium arvense)

rabbit-tobacco (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)

red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

red pine (Pinus resinosa)

rhombic evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala)

rough blazing star (Liatris aspera var. intermedia)

round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata)

showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula)

silky prairie clover (Dalea villosa var. villosa)

sky-blue aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense var. oolentangiense)

smooth scouring rush (Equisetum laevigatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata var. villicaulis)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus)

tall cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta)

tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima var. altissima)

tall thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)

timothy (Phleum pratense ssp. pratense)

toothed evening primrose (Oenothera serrulata)

Virginia groundcherry (Physalis virginiana var. virginiana)

Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides)

white mulberry (Morus alba)

white prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)

white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

white wild indigo (Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)

whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)

wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila ssp. pumila)

yellow goat’s beard (Tragopogon dubius)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)


Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Allium stellatum (prairie onion)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Andropogon gerardi (big bluestem)

Anemone cylindrica (candle anemone)

Anemone patens var. multifida (American pasqueflower)

Anemone virginiana (tall thimbleweed)

Antennaria parlinii ssp. fallax (downy Parlin’s pussytoes)

Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata (field sagewort)

Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana (white sage)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Asclepias verticillata (whorled milkweed)

Asclepias viridiflora (green milkweed)

Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (white wild indigo)

Berteroa incana (hoary alyssum)

Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Brickellia eupatorioides var. corymbulosa (false boneset)

Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)

Carduus acanthoides (plumeless thistle)

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)

Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata (partridge pea)

Coreopsis palmata (prairie coreopsis)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (red osier dogwood)

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover)

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Dalea villosa var. villosa (silky prairie clover)

Desmodium canadense (Canadian tick-trefoil)

Draba reptans (Carolina whitlowgrass)

Drymocallis arguta (tall cinquefoil)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Equisetum laevigatum (smooth scouring rush)

Erigeron canadensis (Canadian horseweed)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Erigeron strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Euphorbia corollata (flowering spurge)

Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Froelichia floridana var. campestris (plains snake-cotton)

Geum triflorum var. triflorum (prairie smoke)

Glycyrrhiza lepidota (wild licorice)

Helianthus hirsutus (hairy sunflower)

Helianthus pauciflorus (stiff sunflower)

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)

Heterotheca villosa (hairy false goldenaster)

Hieracium umbellatum (narrow-leaved hawkweed)

Juglans nigra (black walnut)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Koeleria macrantha (June grass)

Lepidium densiflorum (prairie peppergrass)

Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)

Lespedeza leptostachya (prairie bush clover)

Liatris aspera var. intermedia (rough blazing star)

Linum sulcatum var. sulcatum (grooved yellow flax)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Monarda punctata var. villicaulis (spotted beebalm)

Morus alba (white mulberry)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)

Oenothera rhombipetala (rhombic evening primrose)

Oenothera serrulata (toothed evening primrose)

Opuntia macrorhiza (plains prickly pear)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Pastinaca sativa (wild parsnip)

Penstemon grandiflorus (large-flowered beardtongue)

Phleum pratense ssp. pratense (timothy)

Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida (downy phlox)

Physalis heterophylla (clammy groundcherry)

Physalis virginiana var. virginiana (Virginia groundcherry)

Pinus resinosa (red pine)

Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (rabbit-tobacco)

Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint)

Ratibida pinnata (gray-headed coneflower)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan)

Rumex acetosella (common sheep sorrel)

Rumex crispus (curly dock)

Salix humilis (prairie willow)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Setaria pumila ssp. pumila (yellow foxtail)

Silphium laciniatum (compass plant)

Solidago altissima var. altissima (tall goldenrod)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Solidago ptarmicoides (prairie goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Solidago speciosa (showy goldenrod)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Sporobolus michauxianus (prairie cordgrass)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides (white heath aster)

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (common smooth blue aster)

Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (panicled aster)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense var. oolentangiense (sky-blue aster)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Teucrium canadense (American germander)

Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy)

Tragopogon dubius (yellow goat’s beard)

Trifolium arvense (rabbit’s foot clover)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zizia aptera (heart-leaved golden alexanders)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)


American germander

American pasqueflower

black raspberry

black-eyed Susan

Canadian tick-trefoil

common evening primrose

common mullein

downy phlox

false boneset

gray-headed coneflower

green milkweed

hoary vervain

large-flowered beardtongue


New England aster

partridge pea

plains snake-cotton

prairie onion

prairie rose

purple prairie clover


red osier dogwood

tall cinquefoil

toothed evening primrose

Virginia mountain mint

western poison ivy flowers

white wild indigo

whorled milkweed

yellow goat’s beard

yellow sweet clover




















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