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

Places We Protect

Iowa

Crossman Prairie

This prairie in northern Iowa contains a variety of diverse and rare species.

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.

Location

About 5 miles northeast of Riceville, in Howard County

Conditions

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.

Preserve Visitation Guidelines