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Hardpan Prairie

Hardpan (or fragipan) prairies are flat wetlands hydrologically maintained by precipitation which is prevented from percolating into the groundwater by a clay hardpan a few centimeters below the surface.This hardpan also forms a restrictive layer that helps to retard root growth of deep-rooted trees and shrubs. These communities are hydroxeric (also referred to as xerohydric) as they are wet (hydro-) in winter and spring (and also periodically following rain events in other seasons) and then they usually are vry dry (-xeric) during summer and fall. Hardpan prairies are very rare now and many have been destroyed.