Before large-scale settlement reached Iowa in the 19th century, tall luxuriant prairie grasses covered most of the region. This vast sea of grass was broken only by ribbons of forest land along the major watercourses and by lakes, ponds, and swamp areas in the Iowa Prairie. Big bluestem and little bluestem were the most common prairie grasses. In the warmer months of the year they were intermingled with a variety of colorful wildflowers, including wild roses, pasqueflowers, asters, phlox, wild indigo brooms, goldenrods, lilies, and gentians. Although most of the original prairie, or grassland, has long since been cleared for cultivation, prairie flowers are still to be found in small plots and along roadsides throughout the state.
The wild rose is the state flower. Other common wildflowers found in Iowa include the trillium, bloodroot, hepatica, anemone, and mayapple. In addition, pondweed, bladderwort, crowfoot, duckweed, hornwort, marsh marigold, and sedge are still to be found in the few remaining marshy areas.
Woodlands now cover 8 percent of Iowa, about one-fourth of the area they occupied before the arrival of European settlers. The woodlands, mainly in the Driftless section and along the major rivers, contain mostly second-growth and third-growth timber, the original trees having been cut during pioneer days. There are few extensive areas of densely wooded land in Iowa, and many of the larger woodland areas are preserved in state forests and parks. The most common trees are deciduous trees, such as species of oak, which is the state tree, hickory, maple, and elm. Green ash, willow, and cottonwood occur along river valleys across the state. In the Driftless section the trees are more typical of northern forests, and include several coniferous species. This mixture includes paper birch and white pine. "Iowa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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