Book Review – The Tallgrass Prairie Center Guide to Seed and Seedling Identification in the Upper Midwest 

By Dave Williams and Brent Butler 

  • Publisher: ‎University od Iowa Press, 2010 
  • Paperback‏:‎ 138 pages 
  • ISBN-10: 158729902 
  • Dimensions: 6.13” X 9.25” 
  • Price: $19.21 (Amazon.ca); $14.00 (Amazon.com) 

For the serious grower of Native Plants. And for the beginner, too. If you are growing native tallgrass prairie species in a greenhouse, are winter sowing, or if you just want to know if you should pull that weed or leave it, this book is excellent. The authors grew a number of forbs and grasses in the greenhouse for several weeks and photographed them at various stages. They then point out the key characteristics at each stage of development. They provide photos of the seeds, too. All pictures are clear and unambiguous and the descriptors include germination and growth notes, as well as a section on look-alikes.  

The book is broken down into two main parts – Forbs Identification Guide, and Grasses Identification Guide. The Forbs section is further subdivided into 7 groups based on key characteristics, the Grasses section into 4 groups. The authors state “Associated with each group is a line drawing of a seedling with its most important parts highlighted. Remember those parts, because seedling identification is nothing more than finding them – or not finding them – in a key. Seedlings are therefore grouped by their key characteristics, not by their species or in alphabetical order.” 

This is an excellent guide. And although it is for the Upper Midwest (US), most of the plants are native in the southern Great Lakes Region, too. This should prove to be a very helpful book for anyone doing winter sowing and wondering in the spring if you actually have growing what the label says (speaking from experience, here). 

Happy native plant growing.