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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 10, 2010

New Tallgrass Prairie Center guides are available from the UI Press

Two new manuals in the Bur Oak Guides series -- "The Tallgrass Prairie Center Guide to Seed and Seedling Identification in the Upper Midwest," by Dave Williams, illustrated by Brent Butler, and "The Tallgrass Prairie Center Guide to Prairie Restoration in the Upper Midwest," by Daryl Smith, Dave Williams, Greg Houseal and Kirk Henderson -- are now available from the University of Iowa Press.

The books are available at bookstores or directly from the press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at It is also available as a pdf e-book:

Until European settlers transformed the Midwest into farmland and pasture, the tallgrass landscape of wildflowers and grasses was one of the most diverse ecosystems on our planet. Although less than 3 percent of the original vast landscape survives, the tallgrass prairie remains a national treasure, and preservation and restoration efforts have intensified in recent decades.

The two new manuals, crafted by the Tallgrass Prairie Center at the University of Northern Iowa, survey the ecosystems of eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northwestern Indiana, Iowa, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, northwestern Missouri and eastern Oklahoma.

Robert H. Mohlenbrock, distinguished professor emeritus of botany at Southern Illinois University, wrote about the seed and seedling guide, "For identification of plants, most books rely upon characteristics of the flowers and fruits. Even then, some plants may prove to be tricky to identify.

"Dave Williams has written a most innovative book on how to identify prairie plants in their seedling stages. Who would have thought this possible?

"Williams presents easily workable keys to the seedlings of seventy-two species, including both forbs and grasses, accompanied by superb photographs that use circles and triangles as bullet points for the distinctive features of each seedling. Information on how to distinguish a particular species from look-alikes is also very useful.

"Anyone wishing to identify prairie plants in their seedling stages must have this fine work.”

Thousands of seeds were sprouted in the Tallgrass Prairie Center's greenhouse to provide seedlings close in size and development to those grown in the field near the end of their first season; research and photography took place over four years.

The manual is a natural companion to the prairie restoration guide. Focusing on conservation plantings, prairie recovery, native landscaping in yards and at schools, roadside plantings and pasture renovations, the authors —- who collectively have more than 100 years of experience with prairie restoration —- have created a manual that will be particularly useful to landowners, conservation agency personnel, ecosystem managers, native-seeding contractors, prairie enthusiasts, teachers and roadside managers.

Color and black-and-white photographs taken in the field as well as checklists and tables, support the detailed text, which also includes useful online and print sources and references, a glossary and lists of common and scientific names of all plant species discussed.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, UI News Services, 319-430-1013,