Identifying the plant species in even a small plot of land is a big job that requires knowledgeable people willing to do, often uncomfortable work. If you are old enough to become knowledgeable at this sort of work, there is a good chance that your knees and lower back are old enough to rebel at kneeling in a swamp (amidst the poison ivy and mosquitos) to get a better look at a plant you can’t quite identify. Often enough, the plant won’t be in the right developmental state to show the feature you require for identification, so you will have to come back some time later when the plant reveals what you need to see.

Sometimes, of course, participating in a plant inventory is a lot of fun; but, normally it is a lot more work than is realized and is often undertaken by volunteers. With this in mind, I would like to include here some of the names of the persons who prepared the plant inventory for the Williams Prairie preserve. This record of events was provided by David Wehde, the Vegetation Specialist on the Johnson County Conservation Board

Williams Prairie State Preserve

Plant Species List Explanatory Notes

The...list of vascular plants [at Williams Prairie] was compiled using Diana Horton records that were last updated April 4, 2002 and incorporates data from lists prepared by Paul Sorensen (1962), who recorded 266 species; additions (14 species) to Sorensen’s list provided by Paul Sorensen ( in litt., June 1998); by David Glenn-Lewin (1980), who reported 15 additional species; by Richard S. Rhodes (June 1997) who reported a further 31 species; and by Jacquie Marietta and Ken Jensen (unpublished list prepared in July 1994), who added 8 species and 1 variety.

Additional information was collected from surveys conducted by Gerould Wihelm and Christine Taliga on (June 14, 2001, June 14 2002, June 24, 1999) who added 36 species. Paul Christiansen, Richard S. Rhodes and David Wehde also added 2 species during a field day in the late 1990's.

In Memoriam:

It seems only fair to mention some of the people who helped train and motivate people to do the sort of field work required to produce these plant inventories. The list should be long, but here are just a few names I happen to know about. The links are to some of the programs they helped to develop and support and which continue to train and inform field biologists today.

Dr. Robert Drexler was the biology professor at Coe College (when I attended in the early 1960s) and the motivating force behind the development of the ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) Wilderness Field Station. The field station is located in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. The program still exists and is an excellent introduction for a college undergraduate to field work in the Biological Sciences. Plus, it was a lot of fun. His son (also Dr.Robert Drexler) is an exceptional writer who is now a professor in the English department at Coe College.

Dr. Robert Hulbary (1916 - 1981) was chairman of the Department of Botany at the U. of Iowa for several decades and President of the Iowa Academy of Science (1961-62). He was both accomplished and pleasant and introduced many young plant scientists to the fields of taxonomy, anatomy, and bryology. He was an active supporter of the research society, Sigma Xi and the Nature Conservancy.

Dr. R.V. Bovjberg taught in the Zoology Department at the U. of Iowa before the Botany and Zoology Departments were merged into the Department of Biology. Part of his teaching load included a core corse for non-science majors. His lectures were insightful and appealing and often ended with a standing ovation from his students. He also taught at the Lakeside Laboratories in the summers. The Lakeside Laboratories in northern Iowa offer a learning experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone with an interest in working as a field biologist. IPTV ran a special program on the Iowa Lakeside Lab at Okoboji in 2009.