Iowa is the only state completely within the tallgrass prairie formation. Thanks to rich soil, adequate rainfall, and warm summer temperatures, hundreds of species combine to produce a diverse and colorful and ever-changing landscape. Using text and maps by Paul Christiansen and newly created drawings by Mark Müller, this first comprehensive guide to the prairie plants native to Iowa provides all the information necessary for identifying and distinguishing even the most similar species.

Species are described from the ground up: stem, leaf, bud, flower, fruit, and habitat. The time of flowering and fruiting is given for the central part of Iowa. Where several species are closely related, a common member of the group is fully described, and the other species are compared with the first. Each species is paired with a distribution map. The superbly detailed illustrations, all of which were drawn specifically for this handbook, capture the general shape of each plant as well as its characteristic features. A guide to family identification, information about extant and restored prairies in Iowa, and a glossary are also included.

Farmers who settled Iowa in the 1800s viewed the great green sea of grasses and wildflowers as a challenge to be replaced with crop fields and pastures. Today we realize that the prairie is an addictive, restorative, aesthetically satisfying place for study and recreation. An Illustrated Guide to Iowa Prairie Plants is designed to enable those who want to go beyond the most common plants to identify all native species and to learn more about their distribution, structure, and natural history.

“For over a century, plant lovers have waited for a comprehensive guide that would lead them gently into knowledgeable companionship with Iowa's prairie flora. At last the heart of the tallgrass prairie has what it deserves: an easy-to-use manual, beautifully illustrated, with detailed structural descriptions and distribution maps. As a door for the novice and a sourcebook for the initiated, Paul Christiansen and Mark Müller's book cannot help but increase knowledge and appreciation of Iowa's prairie remnants and thus magnify the preservation of our beleaguered but precious prairie resource.”—Cornelia F. Mutel, author of Fragile Giants: A Natural History of the Loess Hills

“This wonderful guide embodies the wealth of experience of Paul Christiansen, who has spent a lifetime studying Iowa prairies and prairie plants, and the talent of Mark Müller, whose deep appreciation of this most endangered ecosystem is reflected in his remarkable illustrations. I love the logic and functionality of this guide. The species treatments are organized by family, which means that species with similar flower and plant characteristics are together, so you can quickly check the illustrations of all the species in a particular family to see whether one fits the plant you are trying to identify. To paraphrase an old adage, Mark Müller's meticulous drawings are worth a thousand photographs. An Illustrated Guide to Iowa Prairie Plants celebrates a fantastic ecosystem and appropriately focuses on a state that once was encompassed by it.”—Diana Horton, University of Iowa Herbarium

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Publication Details

Publication Date
Pages, art, trim size
252 pages, 800 drawings, 269 maps