Places We Protect

Crossman Prairie


Yellow lady's slippers in Crossman Prairie, Iowa
Yellow lady's slippers Yellow lady's slippers in Crossman Prairie, Iowa © John J. Bishop

Crossman Prairie, with over 120 plant species, is a good example of a black soil tallgrass prairie.



Crossman Prairie was donated to The Nature 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.

The state-endangered bog birch is found here, as well as more familiar wildflowers such as shooting star, hoary puccoon, compass plant and prairie smoke.

Often wet with many hummocks, clumps of sedges form mounds in mucky soil, it can be difficult to walk through, although the topography is relatively flat.

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.




11 acres

Explore our work in this region

What to See: Plants

The plant communities at Crossman Prairie are dominated by prairie cordgrass, bluejoint grass and big bluestem, and host a spectacular display of blooming wildflowers such as marsh marigold, prairie avens, white false indigo, marsh phlox, 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, eyed brown and Aphrodite fritillary.

Visitation Guidelines

Please download our preserve visitation guidelines here.

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