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Tallgrass Prairie Center

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Botany Beginners

Botany Beginners: Exploring Iowa's Native Plants


At the University of Northern Iowa’s Tallgrass Prairie Center, we identify plants in order to monitor and troubleshoot prairie plantings and evaluate the results of experiments. Also, we just love native plants! In recent years, we have trained undergraduate research students and AmeriCorps service members during a 3-week “Botany Boot Camp.” With the advent of the COVID19 pandemic, we found it necessary to provide their initial training some other way. We thought that others across the region might also want an introductory plant ID course and the opportunity to practice with some expert guidance. We have tried to create a worthwhile learning experience for a broad audience, using a combination of remote teaching strategies.  

Who should take this course? 

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn how to identify native plants of the tallgrass prairie region, including a few common weeds and woodland species. This course is for beginners, and the emphasis is on learning how to learn the plants, and becoming more self sufficient through guided practice. Once students can learn the names of the plants they are interested in, it can open up a whole new world to explore. Please join us!

  • The course is free: to sign up for the Lesson 1 Webinar, click here to register                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Click here for a peek at the syllabus, for details about your instructors, six webinar topics, four virtual field events                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Required Textbook: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (1989), available at bookstores and online for about $15.00                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • To join the Facebook group, search for "Botany Beginners" and simply request to join the group. It's a place to share photos, questions and answers with instructors and fellow students

Class Schedule: 

 June ScheduleJuly Schedule

Click to download the June schedule here and July schedule here. 

The Tallgrass Prairie Center wishes to thank Practical Farmers of Iowa and Green Iowa AmeriCorps for their support of this project.