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University of Minnesota Extension

Biomes of Minnesota

Minnesota is at the center of four ecological provinces, or biomes.

  • Laurentian Mixed Forest
  • Eastern Broadleaf Forest
  • Prairie Parkland
  • Tallgrass Aspen Parklands

The Ecological Classification System from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources describes and maps progressively smaller areas of each biome.

Laurentian Mixed Forest

Northeastern Minnesota is dominated by the Laurentian Mixed Forest. For many, this is synonymous with the north woods or boreal forest.

Here, you’ll mostly find aspen, pine, spruce and fir, with pockets of northern hardwoods caused by changes in climate.

Eastern Broadleaf Forest

The Eastern Broadleaf Forest province runs in a narrow band through the center of the state. As the name suggests, you’ll find fewer conifers in this area and more hardwoods like oaks, hickories, maples and basswood.

This province is home to Minnesota’s famous Big Woods—an area west of the Twin Cities that contained over 3,000 square miles of deciduous forest before extensive settlement and development. Only a small portion of the original Big Woods remains.

Prairie Parkland

The Prairie Parkland province is in southern and western Minnesota. Once dominated by native prairie, this province now includes some of Minnesota’s most productive agricultural land. A few remnants of the prairie still exist, mostly in state parks and other protected areas.

Tallgrass Aspen Parklands

The Tallgrass Aspen Parklands province extends into northwestern Minnesota from the north. It’s characterized by an open aspen savanna with tallgrass prairie vegetation mixed in.

Eli Sagor, Extension forester

Reviewed in 2018

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