Crossman Prairie, which contains a high diversity of plant life, is a good example of a black soil tallgrass prairie. The state-endangered bog birch is part of a variety of plants located at this site. Prairie smoke also is a rare plant found in this varied habitat.
Why You Should Visit
Crossman Prairie boasts a richly diverse (mesic) and wet tallgrass prairie and sedge meadow flora, and is home to several rare species.
About 5 miles northeast of Riceville, in Howard County
Often wet with many hummocks, clumps of sedge plants form mounds in mucky soil with periodic flooding. It can be difficult to walk through, although the topography is relatively flat.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Crossman Prairie was donated to the Conservancy in 1976 by Glenn Crossman, a local conservationist who was committed to the protection of this special piece of Iowa’s natural heritage. It was dedicated as a biological State Preserve in 1980. Despite its small size, Crossman Prairie boasts a richly diverse mesic-wet tallgrass prairie and sedge meadow flora, and is home to several rare species.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Invasion by woody plants, especially quaking aspen, was a major problem at the preserve, but intensive efforts by interns and volunteers have reduced the problem. It can now be managed with regular prescribed burns and limited cutting.
What to See: Plants
The plant communities at Crossman Prairie are dominated by sloughgrass, bluejoint grass and big bluestem, and host a spectacular display of blooming wildflowers such as marsh marigold, prairie avens, shooting star, white false indigo, prairie phlox, stiff and bottle gentians, culver's root and blazingstar.
What to See: Animals
Birds visible at the preserve include the red-winged blackbird, sedge wren, bobolink and yellowthroat. Butterfly and skipper species include the black dash, sedge skipper, powesheik skipperling, eyed brown and Aphrodite fritillary.
From Riceville (east of Osage):
Take Highway 9 east 2½ miles to County Road V10.
Turn north and go 3 miles to 75th Street.
Turn east and continue one mile to the preserve on the north side of road (sign: Crossman Prairie).