Document Type



Paleozoic Plateau, Driftless Area, vegetation of Iowa, forest vegetation, hill prairie, boreal slopes, algific slopes, preservation, natural areas, inventory


The present vegetation of the Paleozoic Plateau region of Iowa is a fragmented representation of the original complex of oak-hickory forest mixed with more mesophytic forest, open oak savanna and hill prairie. Because of the topographic variation and the relatively cool, moist environment of the region, the forests are the best developed of those in Iowa, and show the greatest variation, including two types of alluvial forests (Salix thickets and alluvial hardwood forest), and several kinds of upland forests (Tilia, Acer, Quercus borealis, Q, alba and Pinus forests). These types represent points along a more-or-less continuous topographic gradient. Many of the native oak savannas have been eliminated, but oak-juniper glades may be found on cliff faces and steep ridges. The remaining hill prairies are rich in species characteristic of the dry prairies farther to the west. Cold, north-facing slopes ("algific slopes") are the setting for a unique community containing a large number of rare and disjunct species. Outcrops of sandstones and limestone have characteristic microcommunities, often distinguished by their bryophyte or pteridophyte flora. There is a dearth of quantitative vegetation data from the region, and there are numerous research questions about the communities and their plant species that need answers. Preservation and conservation of plant communities and plant species are extremely important and should be addressed by a landscape approach to inventory and management.

Publication Date

March 1984

Journal Title

Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science





First Page


Last Page



©1984 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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